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Vietnam to extend visa waivers

Released at: 16:07, 04/06/2015

Vietnam to extend visa waivers

List of countries whose citizens aren't required to obtain a visa to Vietnam to be broadened and a tourism fund introduced to address falling tourist numbers.

Vietnam will offer additional visa exemptions and set up a $100 million tourism fund to promote the country’s attractions and reverse a fall in foreign visitor numbers.

“The hassle of getting a visa is seriously hampering Vietnam in attracting tourists,” Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan, Head of the National Administration of Tourism, said in an interview in Hanoi on Wednesday. “The application process is easier, faster, and more convenient in other countries in the region.”

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed to offer “unilateral visa exemptions” to countries that have sent high numbers of visitors to Vietnam in recent years, Mr. Tuan said, while declining to give further details.

Vietnam already provides visa exemptions to tourists from Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, starting this year until 2019. Tourism officials have asked PM Dung to add nine more countries - France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - to the list.

Tourist arrivals in Vietnam fell for the fifth month in a row in May, with the largest declines being those from China, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Tourism contributes about 6 per cent to Vietnam’s GDP according to the government, which is trying to spur economic growth to above 6 per cent this year. About 3.3 million tourists visited the country during May, a 13 per cent fall against May last year.

The planned fund will be used to train workers in the industry, hold roadshows, and set up tourism offices overseas, Mr. Tuan said. Up to 30 per cent of the money will come from the State budget, with the remainder coming from tourism companies.

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