The Hanoitimes - Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has agreed to grant visa exemptions for travelers from five European countries since July 1, 2018 and increase the visa waivers period from one to three years.
Tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy will enjoy visa exemptions for the next three years until June 30, 2021 when travelling to Vietnam.
Vietnam first offered visa waivers for citizens from the five European countries in July 2015. The policy has been updated annually and would have expired at the end of June 2018.
The continued visa exemption is expected to give a push to the Vietnamese tourism sector.
The number of tourists from these countries to Vietnam has soared in recent years, reaching 720,000 in 2015, 855,000 in 2016, and 1.5 million in 2017.
Vietnam is among countries with the strictest visa policy in Asia. The country currently offers visa waivers to visitors from 24 countries and territories, including the 10 ASEAN member countries.
Vietnam keeps extending visa exemptions for European tourists
The country has tried to improve the situation with an e-visa policy which is now available to people from 46 countries.
The government is also considering a proposal from the Vietnam Tourism Association on the extension of the period of stay from 15 to 30 days and expansion of visa exemptions for more countries.
The number of international tourists to Vietnam in the first half of 2018 is estimated at 7.89 million, increasing by 27.2% year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office.
Minister - Head of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said that the visa liberalization policy and tourism promotion helped Vietnam maintain the growth rate of international visitors to approximately 30%.
In addition, Dung emphasized that not only the increase of visa exemption period for the citizens of the five European countries, the improvement for other visa granting policies has brought about encouraging results.
Vietnam's tourism advisory board said Vietnam could benefit significantly from expanding visa exemption to Western countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium.