pilot scheme, implemented since the beginning of this year, appears to have a positive impact on Vietnam’s tourism.
Vietnam has become an attractive tourist destination__Photo: Internet
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), after nearly four months of implementing the e-visa pilot scheme, the country, via its immigration portal at www.immigration.gov.vn
, has received more than 22,000 e-visa applications from nationals of the US, the UK, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia, Japan, Sweden and China, just to mention those who do not use ordinary e-passports. Competent authorities have granted e-visas to nearly 21,000 applicants of whom more than 12,000 have actually entered the country.
Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association Vu The Binh said the issuance of e-visas had helped ease the process of applying for an entry visa to Vietnam for tourists from 40 countries.
Early in July 2015, Vietnam offered visa-free entry for visitors from five Western European countries, namely the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. On June 30, 2016, this policy was extended for another one year, helping increase the number of European tourists, especially from these five countries, to Vietnam, Binh said.
VNAT statistics showed that the total number visitors from five Western European countries increased by an average of 15.4 percent within 12 months since the visa exemption policy came into effect. In the first four months of 2017, the number of tourist arrivals from these five countries hit around 333,000, up 15 percent year-on-year.
As the visa waiver program will terminate on June 30 this year, the Government has extended the program to lure more tourists from these big markets. Howerver, Binh suggested that the program should be waived for five years while the period of stay entitled to visa exemption should be extended up to 30 days instead of 15 days as at present.
Simplifying immigration procedures has now been a common trend around the world. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2016-17 from the World Economic Forum, the percentage of tourists requesting visas to enter a country decreased from 77 percent in 2008 to 58 percent in 2016.
Up to date, Vietnam has waived visas for visitors from 22 countries, a modest number as compared with Indonesia with 169 countries and territories, Singapore, 158, Malaysia, 155, and Brunei, 58.- (VLLF)