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Jul 17, 2023 / 15:17

Eurocham urges Vietnam to expand visa waiver for all EU member states

Vietnam has made significant efforts to unlock Vietnam's tourism potential with an open visa policy.

EuroCham Vietnam, the leading voice of the European business community in Vietnam, has called for expanding Vietnam's visa waiver list to include all 27 EU member states, highlighting the significant potential to boost Vietnam's economy through increased inflows of European travelers and business activities.

The petition, delivered in a letter to Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, received strong support from Team Europe, comprised of 18 EU ambassadors and national business organizations.

This expansion will bring in a large number of travelers from the EU market, which has a population of over 500 million. By removing barriers for high-income international travelers to visit Vietnam, we will undoubtedly create amazing opportunities for the country's economy after a difficult few years," said Gabor Fluit, Chairman of EuroCham Vietnam.

He added that European travelers often come in large numbers and are known for their extended stays and strong purchasing power. Their stay of two weeks or more allows them to contribute more to the economy and even explore business opportunities. Creating space for visitors to generate more value is key," said Gabor Fluit.

Chairman Gabor Fluit emphasized that improvements to the visa exemption, along with the introduction of the Michelin list and the recognition of the Vietnam North-South Railway as the most incredible train journey by Lonely Planet, can truly be the answer to increasing tourism's contribution to Vietnam's GDP.

"The combination of these initiatives, coupled with the growing global recognition and interest in Vietnam, has immense potential to drive economic growth and position Vietnam as a leading destination in the global tourism landscape," he said.

 Na Hang-Lam Binh Nature Reserve in the northern province of Tuyen Quang - a national special tourist attraction. Photo: Le Mai/The Hanoi Times

EuroCham Vietnam also appreciates the Vietnamese Government's recent efforts to simplify its visa system, including the extension of e-visa validity to 90 days with multiple entries from August 15 and the extension of visa-free stay to 45 days.

Hoang Nhan Chinh, Director of the Secretariat of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), believes the move is a good condition for international tourists to stay longer and visit Vietnam more often.

"This is an opportunity for Vietnam's tourism industry to become more competitive with countries in the region, such as Thailand," he stressed.

Local insiders have expressed high hopes that the National Assembly's recent amendment to the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam, which expands e-visas and visa-free stays, will attract more international visitors to the country.

Dang Huong Giang, director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, said the extension of stay for international tourists would help Vietnam's tourism industry attract high-spending visitors and improve the quality of services.

Pham Ha, chairman of LuxGroup, a Hanoi-based travel company specializing in the inbound segment, said the business community had long awaited the visa policy change. He sees it as an opportunity for them to tap into high-spending source markets.

"With the new visa policy, we expect an annual increase of 5-25% in our foreign guests. In preparation for the anticipated surge in international tourists, we have been negotiating with our partners to ensure that the quality of our products and services remains exceptional," said Pham Phuong Anh, CEO of Viet Media Travel JSC.

Building long-day tours

 A foreign tourist learns how to wrap chung cakes at Duong Lam Ancient Village. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times

  

Many travel companies have started to design and launch attractive products, especially long-day tours, as Vietnam opens its doors wider to international tourists with this new visa policy.

Le Hong Thai, director of Hanoitourist, a tour operator currently developing long-stay packages, said that to meet the demands of tourists with longer stays, businesses need to build new products with high experiential value, focusing on eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, and luxury cruises.

"Previously, nine to 10 days was the average trip length offered to customers from Europe, Australia and the United States, but now a trip is stretched to almost 20 days," he said.

Cao Tri Dung, chairman of Vietnam TravelMart JSC, said the travel agency offers long-day tours combined with resorts. "We are also shaking hands with our partners in the central provinces of Hue and Quang Nam to organize experiential tours that showcase the traditional culture of the Cham people," he said.

Nguyen Cong Hoan, CEO of Flamingo Redtours, said that with a stay of up to 45 days, businesses can build many long-term tourism products. At present, European and American tourists visit Vietnam and neighboring countries in one trip.

In the past, travelers would go from Hanoi to Laos, Cambodia, Ho Chi Minh City, and then back to Hanoi. With this itinerary, the company could not only sell tours to visitors in Vietnam but also provide additional services in Laos and Cambodia. "Tourists often go shopping at the end of their trip, which will increase our sales," he said.

 Local staff at Danang International Airport welcome travelers to the beach city of Danang. Photo: Quang Hai/ The Hanoi Times

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, Deputy Director General of Vietravel, predicted that the new visa policy would provide a strong boost to the tourism industry during the peak season at the end of the year. She believes the tourism industry can surpass the target of welcoming eight million international visitors this year.

She added that if the list of visa-free countries is expanded soon, it will create even more opportunities to attract international visitors starting from the third quarter. In addition to tourism, the aviation industry is expected to accelerate its recovery from the pandemic.

The Vietnam Tourism Association has recommended that Vietnamese embassies, localities, and businesses implement a communication strategy to inform partners about the new visa policy.

The association states that the extension of the visa period is expected to create favorable conditions and opportunities for local travel businesses to make a significant contribution to the development of the tourism industry and promote the goal of making Vietnam a leading tourist destination in Southeast Asia by 2030.