Friday , June 21 2024

Ministry proposes resuming 15-day visa exemption for foreign tourists

The tourism ministry petitioned the government to resume visa exemption of less than 15 days for visitors from designated markets qualifying for the policy prior to the Covid outbreak.

The proposal was part of a preliminary report on welcoming international tourists to Vietnam under a vaccine passport trial program during the first phase that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism submitted to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh for consideration.

Before the Covid pandemic broke out, visitors from Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. had been allowed to stay in Vietnam for no longer than 15 days without a visa under a policy that helped drive the Vietnamese tourism industry.

However, Vietnam closed its border to foreign tourists in March 2020 and suspended its visa waiver policy early last year to deal with the Covid pandemic.

The ministry also proposed the government to allow travel firms to welcome back foreign tourists via regular commercial flights, by sea or land. Currently, travel firms are only permitted to bring back foreign tourists on charter flights.

The ministry also wanted the government to allow Binh Dinh Province, home to famous resort town Quy Nhon, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s southern metropolis, to welcome back foreign tourists in the second phase of the vaccine passport program that would have started from Dec. 15.

In addition, the ministry suggested the government allow Vietnamese living abroad, overseas Vietnamese with U.S. green and permanent residence cards to join the vaccine passport trial program for foreign tourists as there is high demand among overseas Vietnamese to return to their homeland for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, which peak in early February.

Earlier, Quang Nam, Quang Ninh, Kien Giang, Khanh Hoa and Da Nang got the greenlight to allow in foreign visitors on special tour packages.

Since the country reopened to international tourism last month, over 1,100 visitors have arrived on charter flights, and the tourism industry expects to welcome back 15,000 by the end of this month.

The government last week approved the resumption of commercial flights between Vietnam and nine destinations with high vaccination rates and good pandemic control measures in place during the first phase lasting 15 days from Jan. 1.

Regular flights are scheduled to resume to Bangkok (Thailand), Beijing/Guangzhou (China), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), San Francisco or Los Angeles (the U.S.), Seoul (South Korea), Singapore, Taipei (Taiwan), Tokyo (Japan), and Vientiane (Laos).

In the second phase from Jan. 16, flights would be added on routes connecting Vietnam and Frankfurt (Germany), Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Moscow (Russia), Paris (France), and Sydney (Australia).

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