HCM City seeks longer visa exemptions

Update: August, 14/2017 - 07:00
A group of foreign tourists walking on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street in HCM City’s District 1. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hiếu
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — HCM City’s Department of Tourism has proposed the Government extend its visa exemption policy for international tourists from nine countries to 30 days from 15 days to promote tourism development to help reach the city’s target of 10-11 million international tourists in 2020.

The countries are Sweden, Denmark, Russia, South Korea, England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Accordingly, people from the above-mentioned countries would not have to apply for a visa if their stay in Việt Nam does not exceed 30 days, instead of the 15 days of the current policy.

The department said the Government should extend the policy for people from these countries so that they may stay a longer time in a more convenient and less expensive way.

Last year, about 5.2 million international tourists came to the city, an increase of 10 per cent compared to 2015.

During the last two years, the number of tourists from the Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain increased by 14 per cent each year, thanks in part to the latest visa exemption policy.

The department said the visa exemption policy should be for five years.

Travel expert Huỳnh Văn Sơn said: "It will be hard for Việt Nam’s tourism growth to catch up with other countries in the region if the Government and relevant agencies do not seek solutions to improve standards and streamline procedures for visa requirements".

Research by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showed that based on the visa-free policy, the number of international tourists that come to ASEAN countries increased by 3-5 per cent per year, bringing significant economic benefits with them.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Việt Nam’s tourism ranked 22nd in terms of Price Competitiveness of 141 countries, but 119th in terms of visa requirements.

Only visitors from 22 countries are granted visas exemptions in Việt Nam while Indonesia is exempting visas for visitors from 169 countries and territories, Philippines 165, Singapore 158, Malaysia 155, Thailand 61, Laos 40 and Cambodia 25.

Earlier, the city’s Tourism Association urged the Government to extend the visa waiver for tourists from the 12 countries and territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Britain, France, Spain, Brazil, India, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia. — VNS