Government officials divided over visa waiver policy

While experts and travel firms say visa policy plays an important role in attracting tourists, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs disagrees that that visa ranking affects tourism competitiveness.

The considerable increase in the number of foreign travelers in recent years cannot satisfy ministries and branches, because the number of travelers and their spending are lower than other regional countries.

Government officials divided over visa waiver policy

Foreign travelers stay longer in Vietnam but spend less, $96 in Vietnam vs $330 per day in Singapore. The proportion of foreign travelers from high-spending markets is on the decrease (from 7.6 percent to 5.8 percent for travelers from North America and 14.6 percent to 13.1 percent for Europe).

Vu The Binh, deputy chair of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the number of foreign travelers only increased by 7.6 percent in the first four months of the year, the lowest growth rate in the last few years, and to improve the situation, it’s necessary to improve the competitiveness of the visa policy.

Sharing the same view, Truong Tan Son from Saigontourist commented that the visa application procedure causes people to think they are not welcome. Son proposed waiving visas for travelers from a number of countries, high income travelers and those who travel and go on business regularly.

Pham Ha, director of Lux Group, said the biggest problems in the tourism industry are visa, HR development, tourism products and tourism promotion.

“The current visa policy is a big barrier. I strongly propose applying the visa waiver policy to as many countries as possible. Indonesia is applying the policy for 169 countries,” Ha said.

Foreign travelers stay longer in Vietnam but spend less, $96 in Vietnam vs $330 per day in Singapore. The proportion of foreign travelers from high-spending markets is on the decrease (from 7.6 percent to 5.8 percent for travelers from North America and 14.6 percent to 13.1 percent for Europe).

CEO of Vietravel Nguyen Quoc Ky suggested applying a flexible visa policy. Taiwan, for example, applies the Kuan Hung visa policy for Vietnamese.

 

“If we want to develop tourism, we need to have a more open visa policy,” Ky said, adding that visas could be granted in a flexible way depending on high/low tourism season, big events such as the F1 race, Hue Festival and SEA Games.

Luong Hoai Nam, deputy CEO of Ngoi Sao Viet Airline, said the question raised most regularly by travelers is why Vietnam doesn’t waive a visa for them, while other countries do this.

Nguyen Phuong Lan from MOFA disagrees that a new visa policy will help lure more foreign travelers to Vietnam.

Vietnam has unilaterally applied the visa waiver policy for citizens from 13 countries since 2004 and granted e-visas to citizens from 80 countries. Surveys have found that the unilateral visa waiver policy is not the decisive factor affecting Vietnam’s tourism industry.

Lan cited a report of VNAT as saying that the growth rate of tourism from the US and Canada, markets which require a visa, is even higher than markets enjoying the policy.

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Kim Chi

 
 
 
 
 
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