HANOI, 10 June 2015: The Vietnamese government has given the green light to several proposals, including waiving visas for more nations, to revive the country’s troubled tourism industry.
Travel arrivals have been in decline since 2014 and while there are signs of recovery in specific markets, the trend worries tourism executives who claim the government is not doing enough to streamline entry procedures.
Tuoi Tre News reported that the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism have repeatedly called on the government to enact measures to ‘save’ the tourism industry, which has reported declining tourist arrival numbers for 12 months in a row, since May 2014.
Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dun,g approved some proposals from the two agencies during a government meeting, late last month, raising hopes that Vietnam would reverse the negative trend.
The countries that are likely to enjoy visa-free travel are the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
“Tourists from these countries will be given a 15-day stay over a five-year period,” VNAT chief Nguyen Anh Tuan said.
The visa waivers for the first group of countries are expected to take effect, 1 July for countries in Europe and for Australia, New Zealand and Canada, 1 July, next year.
Vietnam currently offers visa-free travel to seven countries; Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia. Also under ASEAN’s open doors policy citizens of Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines all enjoy visa-free stay.
China ,the largest tourist generating market, is not on the list for visa-free travel despite the commercial benefits visa-free travel would bring. In fact very few Southeast Asian nations offer visa-free travel to Chinese, even though they rely heavily on that market to reach ambitious tourism targets.
Starting next month, Vietnam will also waive visas for tourists from Belarus, according to a resolution the government released earlier this month.