Photo: Duc Anh
Exemptions for tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy extended until June 30, 2017.
The Vietnamese Government has decided to extend visa exemptions for citizens from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
The visa exemptions have been extended for one more year, to June 30, 2017, on single-entry visits of less than 15 days regardless of passport type or purpose of entry when applicants meet the necessary conditions under Vietnamese law.
The government previously issued Resolution No. 46 /NQ-CP on visa exemptions for citizens from the five countries, which was effective from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.
Tourist arrivals from the five countries to Vietnam all recorded impressive growth in the first half of the year, according to the Vietnam National Administrative of Tourism (VNAT). The growth of Italian, UK, Spanish, German, and French tourist arrivals to Vietnam was 30.1 per cent, 24.6 per cent, 22.7 per cent, 117.1 per cent, and 13.8 per cent, respectively.
Total tourist arrivals from the five countries in first half of the year increased 62,029 compared to the same period last year, when the visa exemption policy had yet to come into effect. In the 2010-2014 period the total tourist numbers from the five countries grew some 5.35 per cent each year. After the introduction of visa-free travel they increased 13.91 per cent from July 2015 to March 2016.
Total international tourist arrivals to Vietnam in the first half reached over 4.7 million, an increase of 21.3 per cent year-on-year, while domestic tourists totaled 32.4 million. Tourism revenue stood at VND 200.339 trillion ($8.9 billion).
The first half figures auger well for Vietnam reaching its target of welcoming 8.5 million international tourists and catering to 60 million domestic tourists this year, VNAT believes. The target of VND370 trillion ($16.56 million) in revenue is also well within reach.
Tourist arrivals from Northeast Asia have also seen high growth. Those from Hong Kong increased 128.3 per cent, China 47.9 per cent, South Korea 34 per cent, Taiwan 15.8 per cent, and Japan 12.4 per cent. Arrivals from Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia all grew in the double digits.
Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan, VNAT’s Director-General, said that illegal Chinese guides in Vietnam have become a major problem recently as foreigners are permitted to be involved in professional tourism activities in Vietnam or be tourist guides.
He acknowledged that the sudden increase in Chinese tourists to Vietnam creates pressure on tourism companies and that initially Vietnam has not met demand.
VNAT recently withdrew the business license of Silent Bay, an international tourism agency in Vietnam, after it was found to be employing 60 workers without contracts.