The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have proposed that the Vietnamese government expand its visa waiver scheme for nine more international tourists, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
Accordingly, if approved, visitors from France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada would enjoy visa exemptions when traveling to Vietnam.
The proposal aims at increasing the attractiveness of Vietnam in the eyes of the visitors from those potential foreign tourism markets, said the VNAT.
According to VNAT surveys, visitors from Western European countries have a history of high spending and long-term stays, while those from Australia and New Zealand are in the group of Vietnam’s potential tourism markets, especially in the low season for international travel business.
Meanwhile, Canadian customers have long been in the top 15 leading international tourist markets for Vietnam.
In addition, India will become an important market in the future with the advantage of a large population.
According to VNAT statistics, each international tourist to Vietnam has an average expenditure of US$1,200-2,500.
So according to tourism experts, the visa exemption will generate additional revenues for the society in general and create more job opportunities for local people.
Vietnam’s visa exemption program is now applied for a period of 30 days for tourists from the ASEAN countries (excluding Brunei for 14 days) and 15 days for tourists from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
The visa exemption in Vietnam has contributed positively to the development of the domestic tourism sector, the VNAT said, adding that the total number of international visitors to the Southeast Asian country in the first eight months of 2014 topped 5.47 million, up 12.2 percent compared to the same period in 2013.
Of which, nearly 42 percent were visitors enjoying visa exemptions, said the VNAT.
More and more international visitors are enjoying the visa waiver programs, according to data taken for reference from tourism promoting agencies of Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia in Vietnam.
Thailand’s visa exemption is now applicable to 61 countries and territories, of which 49 have signed unilateral visa exemption agreements with Thailand.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian visa waiver scheme is applied for visitors from 155 countries and territories, of which 85 have signed unilateral visa exemption agreements with Malaysia. The corresponding numbers of Singapore are 165 and 82.
In June this year, the Tourism Working Group of the Vietnam Business Forum also urged Vietnam to relax its visa procedures following a dip in tourism arrivals that followed the anti-China riots in May.
It proposed that “visa-exemptions [be] expanded to include countries [and territories] that can potentially account for significant tourism revenue, such as EU member states, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan” to lure back tourists frightened by the riots.