Easing visa rules a lever to woo more foreign tourists: insiders

June 26, 2024 - 14:53
Experts said there is a huge workload that needs to be done if Việt Nam wants to become a leading destination in the region.
An overview of the central city of Đà Nẵng.  — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI – As Việt Nam is looking for ways to lure more international visitors, an 'open door' visa policy is seen as a lever that could help the country reach its set target, according to insiders.

Việt Nam’s goal of 18 million foreign arrivals is achievable since the country welcomed nearly 7.6 million in the first five months of this year, representing an increase of 65 per cent compared to same time last year and an increase of 3.9 per cent against the five-months in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country was the third fastest growing destination in Asia for European visitors, following Malaysia and Japan, according to accommodation searches on the Agoda travel platform in April. It witnessed a 66 per cent increase in travel searches from European tourists, with the highest figures from France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain.

However, experts said there is a huge workload that needs to be done if Việt Nam wants to become a leading destination in the region.

They said that regional peers have capitalised on their relaxed visa policies to attract foreign tourists, including Thailand that has rolled out various flexible mechanisms.

Following its five-month visa-free scheme for Chinese tourists, Thailand has shaken hands with China to permanently waive visa requirements for each other’s citizens from March this year. It has also made significant changes to its visa policies to attract long-haul visitors with the extension of visa-free stays from 30 to 60 days for travellers from 93 countries, up from the previous 57.

From mid-August 2023, Việt Nam has issued electronic visas to citizens of all countries, extending temporary stay periods from 30 to 90 days with unlimited entries and exits. Although the visa extension policy is a bold step, it is less attractive than that of several regional countries.

Chairman of Lux Group Phạm Hà suggested Việt Nam focus on wooing tourists from well-heeled markets such as Australia and New Zealand by providing them with visa waivers and tempting tourism offerings.

Along with rational promotion campaigns, it is necessary to improve the management of the tourist destinations to ensure sustainable tourism development, he added.

Meanwhile, Sales Director at Sun Hospitality Group Lưu Thị Hoàng Lan recommended that the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism play the role conductor and carry out promotion programmes in key and potential foreign markets, mobilising the participation of local tourism sites, airlines and large travel firms and build competitive products.

She suggested the opening of new international air routes to such important destinations as Phú Quốc, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Ninh, and Nha Trang to diversify tourism markets and lessen dependence on traditional ones like China and the Republic of Korea. – VNS