Tuesday , May 28 2024

Vietnam to expand list of eligible countries for visa exemption

Vietnam will waive visas for more countries and extend the length of stay for foreign tourists to speed up the recovery of tourism, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said Wednesday.

The list of eligible countries for e-visa issuance will be expanded, the prime minister said at a conference on post-Covid tourism recovery.

“The government will create favorable conditions for domestic and international airlines to open direct routes connecting Vietnam with key tourism markets,” he added.

Vietnam already waives visas for travelers from 25 countries, compared to 162 for Malaysia, 157 for the Philippines and 68 for Thailand. It also offers a one-month single-entry e-visa to visitors from 80 countries.

The multi-entry three-month visa that was available before Covid has not been brought back yet.

Speaking at the conference, Sun Group Chairman Dang Minh Truong proposed the government consider exempting visas for tourists from key markets such as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.

In addition, Truong proposed that the 15-day period of visa-free stay allowed for tourists from key markets such as Europe be increased to 30 or 45 days.

In 2019, the number of international visitors to Vietnam was 21% of domestic tourists, but revenues from international tourists accounted for nearly two-thirds of the country’s total tourism revenue, Truong said.

International visitors stayed in Vietnam for 8-12 days, spending $1,100 to 2,000 per trip while domestic tourists mainly traveled on weekends, staying one or two days.

Nguyen Thi Nga, chairwoman of real estate developer BRG, also urged the government to quickly extending the length of stay for international visitors to boost tourism revenue.

Currently, only citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Kyrgyzstan are offered visa-free stay of 30 days, while tourists from Chile and Panama enjoy a 90-day visa waiver.

Visitors from some European countries, Japan and South Korea, Vietnam’s top tourism markets, are permitted to stay in the country for no more than 15 days without applying for a tourist visa.

Despite being one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism post Covid, Vietnam only received 3.6 million foreign tourists last year, around 20% of pre-pandemic levels.

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