Vietnam mulls scrapping visas for int’l customers of selected travel agents

The government has asked relevant agencies to study the feasibility of granting a policy to waive visas for international tourists who visit Vietnam via tour packages offered by local travel firms.

Vietnam mulls scrapping visas for int’l customers of selected travel agents

Such a free-visa policy will only be applicable to vacationers from “a certain markets” who buy tour packages from “a certain Vietnamese international travel agents,” according to The Saigon Times Online.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and its foreign affairs and public security counterparts, as well as other relevant agencies, have been tasked with making a proposal on the policy, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

“The government has just made the order and we will immediately start studying its possibility now,” VNAT chief Nguyen Anh Tuan was quoted by The Saigon Times Online as saying at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday.

Even though it is not clear which countries and which Vietnamese tour organizers will be included in the program, sources with knowledge on the matter said the policy could be applied on a trial basis with markets with huge arrival numbers and reputable travel firms.
The news is embraced by local tour organizers, as Vietnam’s rigid visa requirements have long been a big hurdle that discourages international visitors.

“The policy, if enacted, would scrap visa requirements for almost all international tourists to Vietnam,” Nguyen Thi Khanh, deputy chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City Travel Association, said after the Friday meeting.

The proposed policy will be the latest in a series of measures Vietnam has enacted in a bid to lure back international travelers.

In July the Southeast Asian country began waiving visa requirements for tourists from the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and the move eventually paid off as all of the five markets reported rising arrival numbers in the July – October period.

The Southeast Asian country currently applies a one-sided free-visa policy to eight countries, including Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and Belarus.

Vietnam also has a visa-free policy for nine other Southeast Asian countries, including Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Foreign tourists who visit Phu Quoc Island, off the southern province of Kien Giang, also enjoy a 30-day free visa.
Vietnam’s tourist numbers repeatedly shrinking in a stretch of 13 months since May 2014, but has begun bouncing back since the middle of this year.

The country is expected to post healthy international arrival numbers in the last two months of the year, according to the VNAT.

Vietnam welcomed more than 7.87 million international visitors in 2014 and the figure this year could be “similar or a bit higher,” Tuan said.

Source: Tuoitrenews

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