The Hanoitimes - Vietnam has unilaterally exempted visas for 13 countries since 2004 and granted e-visas for citizens from over 80 countries.
Many businesses have urged the Vietnamese government to extend visa waiver policy to help attract more foreign visitors to Vietnam, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
The request was made by several travel enterprises at the 2019 Vietnam Private Sector Economic Forum on May 2 in Hanoi.
Speaking at the forum, General Director of Vietravel Nguyen Quoc Ky said that if Vietnam wants its tourism industry to thrive, the government needs to have a more open visa policy.
Vietnam needs extensive visa exemption to develop tourism.
Meanwhile, Truong Tan Son, a representative of Saigontourist, proposed the government exempt visas for more countries, especially up to for 5 - 10 year exemption for high-spending tourists and those who travel and work regularly in Vietnam.
On his sides, Director of Sang Trong Tourist Company Pham Ha said that there are four bottlenecks in the tourism industry, including visa policies, training of human resources, tourism products, and effective promotion.
According to Pham Ha, Vietnam’s tourism development is facing with many problems, especially the visa policy. Instead of 15-day visa exemption, the valid time frame should be extended to 30 days. Ha also proposed granting visa-free entrance for citizens of as many countries as possible, citing Indonesia, which has removed visa for 169 countries, as an example.
Regarding the visa policy, Deputy Head of the Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Lan said Vietnam has unilaterally exempted visas for 13 countries since 2004. By 2017, the government granted e-visas for citizens from over 80 countries.
Nguyen Phuong Lan, however, argued that visa exemption policy is not a decisive factor for the local tourism industry.
The extension of visa waiver takes into account several factors including the relationships between the two countries in terms of security and foreign affairs, as well as the need to guarantee the interests of Vietnamese citizens, she said.
Head of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) Hoang Nhan Chinh said Vietnam should focus on attracting foreign visitors from Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand who tend to travel longer and spend more on holidays.
The TAB has been proposing visa policy changes for many years so that the tourism industry can achieve its goal of serving 18.5 million visitors and earning US$35 billion by 2020, he noted.
The 2019 Vietnam Private Sector Economic Forum, the largest of its kind in the country this year, is jointly organized by the government and the Central Economic Commission, in coordination with VnExpress and IEC Group.