Visa deal extends three years

HANOI, 19 December 2019: Vietnam’s travel industry has welcomed the government decision to extend visa-free stays for citizens from Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belarus until 13 December 2022.

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) announced the extension on Tuesday. The visa-free stay is valid for 15 days.

The eight countries have enjoyed visa exemption since 2015, but it was due to expire 31 December 31 this year.

South Koreans are the second-largest source of tourists after China scoring 3.86 million visits over January to November this year, while Japan is the third largest with 872,255 visits. Russian in sixth place delivered 585,647 visits over the 11 months.

European countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belarus remain emerging tourism markets. Finland supplied just 18,826 visits during the 11 months.

But Europeans tend to spend more at around USD1,316 per trip compared to USD900 for other regions, according to VNAT’s data based on exit surveys carried out randomly at airports.

While the travel industry welcomes the extensions, it has always argued that 15 days is too short, especially for Europeans.  Industry recommendations call for 30 days or at least allow the 15-day visa to be extended without the visitor having to leave the country.

Vietnam provides visa-free entry to just 24 countries and territories, and of that total, nine are ASEAN neighbours.

VN Express news service reports that “Indonesia grants visa-free travel to 169 nationalities, while the figure for Singapore is 158, Malaysia 155 and Thailand 61.”