The HCMC Department of Tourism has petitioned the Government to expand its visa waiver to more countries and at the same time lengthen the visa-free stay from 15 days to 21 or 30 days for passport holders from Sweden, Denmark, Russia, South Korea, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
International tourists are seen taking photos in downtown HCMC. The HCMC government has proposed the central Government ease visa requirements to lure more international visitors
Over the past two years, the visa waiver for citizens of five Western European countries – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – has contributed positively to the tourism sector as the number of visitors from these countries has risen by 14% a year.
Therefore, the department has asked the central Government to either extend the pilot visa waiver to five years or grant a long-term visa exemption.
The Government should consider allowing international visitors to re-enter the country within 30 days of visa exemption as many foreign tourists to Vietnam want to travel to neighboring countries before returning to Vietnam for departure, according to the department.
The city lured about 5.2 million international tourists last year. It is pinning high hopes on its tourism market with 20-25% growth in foreign visitor arrivals. By 2020, international visitor arrivals could soar to 10 to 11 million.
The city tourism sector also aims for 10-15% growth in annual revenue, VND165-170 trillion by 2020, accounting for around 11% of the city’s gross domestic product.
The Tourism Advisory Council has recently thrown support behind a visa exemption for foreign tourists as a rise in arrivals will bring bigger tourism revenue, offsetting a fall in revenue from visa fees.
The council cites research by the World Tourism Organization and the World Travel and Tourism Council as saying that a visa waiver can help increase tourist arrivals in ASEAN by 3-5.1% and job creation by 1.6-3.1%.