Vietnam May Loosen Tourist Visa Restrictions - Vietnam Briefing News
Vietnam may widen the number of nationalities permitted to enter the country without a visa, and establish a tourism fund to address the problem of declining tourism numbers.
The Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has reportedly agreed that “unilateral visa exemptions” will be granted to nationalities of countries with high number of tourist visitors to Vietnam.
Mr Nguyen Van Tuan, Head of Vietnam’s National Tourism Administration, has said that the “hassle of getting a visa is seriously hampering Vietnam in attracting tourists”, and when comparing Vietnam to other countries in the region, other countries have an “easier, faster, and more convenient” application process.
The list of visa-exempt nationalities currently includes those carrying passports from Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and Sweden.
The Prime Minister has been asked by tourism officials to add Australian, Canadian, French, Germany, Indian, Italian, New Zealand, Spanish, and UK citizens to the list of visa-exempt nationalities.
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Tourist numbers have fallen throughout 2015. Approximately 3.3 million tourists visited Vietnam in May, a 13 percent decline on May 2014. The largest declines in tourist numbers were in visitors from Cambodia, China, and Thailand.
Vietnam’s visa on arrival procedures for tourists are extremely complicated compared to others in the region. Applicants first apply online through a Vietnamese government portal and pay an application fee. Applicants then receive a scanned document by email with their name and occasionally the names of other unrelated travelers on. The document has been printed off, stamped with an official seal, and scanned by the government.
RELATED: Vietnam Updates Visa Categories, Expands Visa-Free Access
Applicants are required to print off this scanned document and physically carry it to a separate desk at relevant airports, where they line up to submit the printed document and their passport, and wait in a crowd until an official vocally announces that the visa of an individual is ready. The applicants then pay a second fee to staff at the visa on arrival desk in cash in exchange for the return of their passport, with a full-page visa inside.
In practice, it took this editor longer to use the visa on arrival system than it took in total to physically go to a Vietnamese Embassy to apply for a visa, and return to the Embassy a second time to collect it.
The planned tourism fund will be used to train tourism workers, establish tourism offices overseas, and will be jointly funded by state authorities and tourism companies.
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