Tourism association suggests longer visa waiver for Europeans

The HCMC Tourism Association has written to relevant authorities proposing lengthening the visa waiver for citizens of five Western European countries from the current one year to five years and the visa-free stay from 15 days to 30 days.

In a petition sent to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the association said the five European nations including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are highly potential source markets for the tourism sector.

The visa exemption has produced positive results as Vietnam has been enjoying strong growth in tourist arrivals from the five countries with around 400,000 visitors in the last six months of 2016, up 12% year-on-year.

However, the visa policy, which allows visitors from the five European countries to stay in the country for up to 15 days without a visa, will expire by the end of July.

Therefore, many tourism enterprises want the Government to continue the exemption after July 30 and extend the visa waiver for the five countries with a five-year validity instead of a one-year period as currently. This will help these enterprises have better long-term plans to promote their tourism products.

Besides, travel firms suggested increasing the visa-free stay from 15 days to one month for citizens of the five countries to meet their demand for a longer vacation in Vietnam.

In addition, many tourists from Western European countries and Japan have made tours that take in the three countries in Indochina but they only get a visa exemption to Vietnam for the first arrival. They have to apply for visas for the second entry.

Therefore, many travel firms also proposed the visa waiver for second entry to Vietnam.

Apart from Western European nations, Vietnam unilaterally grants visa exemptions for passport holders of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Sweden, and Russia, among others.

International visitors are not required to apply for visa if they stay on Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang Province for a maximum of 30 days.

The pilot e-visa policy for residents of 40 countries for two years started from February 1.