Extended visa exemption to increase Western European guests

11:12 | 30/07/2018 Travel

(VEN) - The 15-day visa exemption policy for visitors from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy was extended by three years commencing July 1. This is expected to increase the number of high-spending, long-stay visitors to Vietnam.

extended visa exemption to increase western european guests
Vietnam has become an increasingly attractive destination for Western European visitors

Western European market development

According to Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung, the open-door visa policy aligned with enhanced tourism promotion has contributed to maintaining Vietnam’s growth rate of foreign visitors at nearly 30 percent annually.

Minister Dung noted that the government would consider proposals from the Vietnam Tourism Association concerning the extension of the period of stay in Vietnam from 15 to 30 days and the expansion of exemptions for more countries.

Western Europe is a desirable tourist market with its stable economy and high-spending, long-stay visitors. According to Hoang Nhan Chinh, Secretary General of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), since the visa exemption went into force in 2015, the number of visitors from the five Western European countries had increased more than 20 percent annually.

According to a survey by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), each Western European visitor spends an average of US$1,316 while in Vietnam. The number of Western European visitors reached 781,000 in 2016, up 87,000 from the previous year, and 1.5 million in 2017, resulting in direct revenues of more than US$114 million and additional indirect revenue of over US$124 million.

Visa quality improvement

Compared to other ASEAN countries, Vietnam has provided visa exemptions for visitors from 24 countries, while Thailand has provided visa exemptions for visitors from 61 countries, Malaysia - 155 countries, Singapore - 158 countries, Indonesia - 169 countries, and Brunei - 58 countries. These countries grant on-arrival and electronic visas (e-visa). While other countries offer 30-day visa exemptions, Vietnam’s visas are limited to 15 days and do not allow exemption beneficiaries to return within 30 days.

A TAB member, Luong Hoai Nam, said that to achieve the tourism development target stated in the Politburo’s Resolution 08, on-arrival visa procedures should be simplified, and the exemption period extended from 15 to 30 days. In addition, six countries - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands – should be added to the list of visa exemption beneficiaries.

Travel businesses say the tourism industry needs to improve service quality to attract more visitors from the five western European countries. Relevant authorities should help the industry by facilitating tourism promotion and development of new tourist offerings.

Bao Thoa