Vietnam extends visa-free deal

HANOI, 18 May 2018; Vietnam has announced it will extend the visa free validity period for five European nationalities through to 13 June 2021.

The visa-free exemption scheme was due to expire at the end of June this year. It was the second extension for the scheme introduced in 2016.

Asian Trails Vietnam notified its partners worldwide in a news alert, Thursday, stating the exemption would remain in place for citizens of five countries the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Travel executives in Vietnam responded positively to the news saying it would help to boost arrivals from Europe a priority for the country to balance off the dominance of China’s outbound market.

Europe’s outbound travel markets supplied 843,840 visits to Vietnam during the first four months of the year, an increase of 12.9%.

During January to April, this year, visits from the UK reached 118,250, up 11.1%, Germany, 89,468 (+8%), France, 114,368 (+8.6%), Spain, 17,234 (+5.5%) and Italy, 26,204 (+19.7%).

In comparison, China delivered 1,776,024 tourists up 39.7%.

Over the first four months of the year tourist arrivals reached 5,547,314. This year the country is targeting 15.5 million, compared with 12.9 million in 2017.

However, the visa-free stay is limited to 15 days despite the industry lobbying to have it increased to 30 days.

They claimed 30 days would allow travellers to use Vietnam as a holiday home base to make multiple trips to neighbouring countries.

There is also a trend to design overland tours that explore more destinations in Vietnam covering much longer distances north to south.

Asian Trails noted that for stay longer than 15 days, the pre-arranged visa-on-arrival application requires processing the approval through a travel firm that issues a letter of invitation. Asian Trails offers that service from all of its Vietnam offices.

Vietnam also offers an online e-visa service that allows a traveller to apply, post a photo and pay with a credit card. An approval process takes around three days when the immigration bureau issues an approval code that is then presented to immigration on arrival at any of Vietnam’s international airports.