Some Vietnamese travel firms currently opt to notify a Singaporean immigration agency of the lists of tourists they will take there in advance in order to make sure no one will have entry to the city-state denied.
The tour organizers said they have had to resort to such a cautious move in the wake of complaints arising in July that many Vietnamese visitors, especially women, were denied entry after their flights landed at Singapore Changi Airport for unknown reasons.
Many of such women said they were held by immigration officers, questioned in private rooms and had their photos and fingerprints taken before they were allowed to enter, if lucky enough, or told to return to Vietnam otherwise.
These people were also required to present relevant papers, their purposes of traveling to Singapore, and the amount of cash they carried to officers of the Singaporean Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
Consequently, some travel firms have decided to send a list of their customers to the Vietnamese unit of the Singapore Tourism Board for verification, and pass the scanned copy of the verified paper to the ICA before bringing the tourists there.
Ta Thi Cam Vinh, outbound tour director with Ben Thanh Tourist Co., said her company has been doing so for the last few months.
“We have to complete this ‘assurance procedure’ for customers who will travel to Singapore in large groups,” she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Such an extra formality has apparently discouraged Vietnamese people from visiting Singapore, especially those who come in groups, in recent months, according to tour organizers.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Vietnamese Embassy in Singapore to work with relevant local agencies to clarify the issue, its spokesperson Le Hai Binh said at a regular press meeting on Thursday.
“The two sides have to work out proper solutions for protecting the rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens,” Binh said.
In July, the ICA also addressed complaints that many Vietnamese visitors had been denied entry to Singapore, saying it did not enact any discriminatory measure against Vietnamese nationals.
The agency asserted that Vietnamese visitors are always welcome to visit Singapore, and pledged to assist and respect those visitors on their arrival at Singapore Changi Airport, according to the minister-counselor of the Vietnamese Embassy in the city-state, Nguyen Minh Hang.
The ICA also stated clearly that it would deny entry to certain types of visitors, including those who use passports with different personal information to enter Singapore repeatedly, or those who have violated local laws.
Those individuals who keep coming to Singapore but do not have a clear purpose for their visit, and those entering the country to seek a job, will also be rejected, according to the ICA.