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Vietnam Today

Vietnam approves direct flight to and from Czech Republic

Released at: 10:13, 08/06/2017

Vietnam approves direct flight to and from Czech Republic

Photo: VOV

Decisions announced during visit to Vietnam by Czech President Milos Zeman.

by Quang Huy

Vietnam has agreed to open a direct air route to and from the Czech Republic and offer visa waivers to its citizens for visits of up to 15 days.

In his first visit to Vietnam since taking office as President of the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman told a press briefing on June 7 in Hanoi that he and his Vietnamese counterpart, State President Tran Dai Quang, had agreed on single entry visa exemptions for Czech citizens visiting Vietnam and a direct flight between Prague and Ho Chi Minh City to boost tourism.

He also said the Czech Republic would open a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City shortly, but no specific dates for the air service or the consular opening were revealed at the briefing.

President Zeman was accompanied by 68 Czech businesspeople on his three-day visit to Vietnam.

An Associated Press (AP) report said that seven deals, including a $20 million beach resort project, were signed during the trip.

Vietnam welcomed more than 10 million foreign arrivals last year, up 26 per cent from the previous year. Arrivals increased nearly 30 per cent in the first five months of this year, according to official figures.

The country has set a target of welcoming 20 million foreign visitors in 2020 and developing tourism into a key economic sector, but its visa policy has been criticized by tourism industry groups as one of the toughest in Asia.

The country recently announced it would renew its 15-day visa exemption policy for citizens from Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain until June 2018.

Tourism industry groups have been urging the government to open up its visa policy to major markets such as Australia, Canada, and India, as well as Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, and the former Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

The Czech Republic becomes the 23rd country to be granted visa waivers by Vietnam, which welcomed about 14,000 Czech tourists last year.

Trade

“Bilateral trade has enjoyed stable growth in recent years, hitting nearly $250 million in 2016,” Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue told a Czech-Vietnamese business forum held on June 6. “By the end of last year, the Czech Republic was running 36 investment projects in Vietnam worth about $100 million, while Vietnam was directing four projects in the Czech Republic valued at more than $5 million.”

According to the Deputy PM, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement coming into force in 2018 is hoped to open up new opportunities in cooperation between Vietnam and the EU and between the country and the Czech Republic.

Though business ties between Vietnam and the Czech Republic have seen dynamic development, there remains great potential to develop trade and investment ties.

“Bilateral trade is dominated by exports from Vietnam, while other means of cooperation that could benefit both countries have been neglected,” Mr. Jaroslav Hanak, President of the Czech Confederation of Industry, told the forum, adding that the full potential of relations has yet to be realized.

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