While in many countries, travelers are usually exempted from visas within 30 days, Vietnam maintains visa waiver policy for the tourists in just 15 days and does not allow them to return within 30 days. Tran Trong Kien, Chairman of the National Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), CEO of Thien Minh Group, shared with the online newspaper of the Government on the visa policy for the international tourists to visit Vietnam.
The Prime Minister has decided to extend the validity of visas for citizens of five Western European countries to 3 years instead of 1 year as before, since 1/7. How do you think about the initial effect of this policy?
First of all, I have to say that this is a very good policy of the Government to continue to improve Vietnam’s tourism business environment. We have made a significant progress in the past two years in tourism. The number of international tourists visiting Vietnam has been growing up 30% annually and it can reach 16 million travellers this year.
However, in order to get the target of welcoming 20 million international visitors by 2020 and especially increasing the revenue in the coming years, the flexibility of our visa policy must be improved.
Firstly, The new policy helps the airline and travel enterprises make the business plans in longer term than before. Secondly, it shows the openness and welcomes of the Vietnamese Government to the international tourists. Thirdly, this is a good premise to study the next policies. TAB has sent a letter to the Prime Minister explaining and alalyzing the benefits of further extension of Vietnam’s visa exemption policy.
Is there any statistics on the number of tourists from the potential markets in the summer of 2018, sir?
There are about 1 million Western European people visiting Vietnam annually. This market has the high expenditure, long stay, stable growth and less political impact. They are always welcomed by the most of the travel destinations in the region.
Over the last three years, the number of tourists from Western European markets that have been exempted from Vietnam visa grown steadily over 10%. This is a very good growth rate. However, it must be noted that we are still low compared to other competing countries such as Thailand. We could expect to welcome 1 million visitors from the UK, 1 million visitors from Germany, more than 1 million French visitors to Vietnam if we set the target as Thailand’s threshold but we are still far from such a threshold.
I believe that the three year visa exemption policy will help us achieve these goals. According to the figures from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, neally 8 million international visitors coming to Vietnam in the first 6 months of 2018, up 27.2% over the same period last year.
In addition, many other things such as promotion, advertising, environment, infrastructure … must be good also to ensure the visitors come and would love to return to Vietnam.
What have the travel businesses prepared to welcome the travelers from and how the promotion activities in such markets?
The promotion activities such as World Travel Market would be hold annually until 2020. TAB would support to make sure that the shows are organized most effectively.
We are also investing in the new website on tourism of Vietnam (portal.travel). The quality of the site is improving, access levels are increasing, and in the next two years, we hope that the access level would reach the same one as those of Singapore and Thailand.
We are also promoting Vietnam tourism through the roadshows. Recently, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has sucessfully organized the roadshows in four new cities: Zurich (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech) and Budapest (Hungary).
Knowing that the travelers would be exempted from Vietnam visas in 3 years, many airline businesses have increased their budget for promoting in Western European markets from 2018 to 2020. Thus, I do trust in the effectiveness of this policy.
Besides Western European market, there are still some potential markets that we haven’t applied the visa exemption policies for. How do you think about the benefits that these markets could bring to the country and whether we have any proposal to the Government?
We should increase the competitiveness capacity of Vietnam tourism industry in the World Economic Forum’s index by 10 points, from 67 to 57. One of the best solusion is applying visa exemption policy for more countries.
There are 24 countries exempted from Vietnam visa in 15 days and not returning within a period of 3 months. We should extend the length of stay to 30 days because most of visitors come from Western European countries and they usually stay for more than 15 days. European and Australian holidays usually last 3 weeks. We expect them to stay in Vietnam for over 15 days.
We should not limit their return but expect them to come back for more. This is an important indicator in tourism, so a visa waiver policy is really necessary. We would like to propose the Government to apply the policy for some more potential markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands; Visa exemption is required for 30 days and not restricted to return regularly. If that is the case, I believe that those markets will grow very sustainably.
In addition, how do we need to change other issues related to visa policy in order to secure the objective of the Resolution 08, sir?
Our e-visa policy has been very good over the years, with the implementation of applying e-visas for 44 countries and could be more, improvement of access speed, improvement of e-visa website marketing and simpler and easier process However, Vietnam National Administration Of Tourism and businesses should continue to promote e-visa more strongly.
Secondly, it is necessary to improve the visa policy on arrival. This is very complicated and ineffective now, while we could do it much better.
Last but not least, we should consider a “transit visa” for visitors to experience Vietnam within 72 hours or 48 hours without a visa. Most developing countries have this policy, they allow visitors to experience their country in that time without any requirement. This provides opportunities for visitors to experience Vietnam in a short time and then plan to return to stay longer.
Thank you so much for sharing!