|Illustrative photo: Visa-Vietnam.org
A recent survey by the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) has shown that the Vietnam visa application process is more complicated than that of other countries including Thailand and Singapore, which may hinder the development of the country’s tourism development.
Accordingly, TAB surveyed visa policy in 130 respondents from January 15 to March 1. Of the amount, there were 15 potential tourists and 25 tour operators, online visa suppliers, hotels and air carriers.
Almost respondents said that the process of applying Vietnam visa is more difficult than that of other Southeast Asian countries. Many foreign tourists are confused as Vietnam currently has two official websites of immigration namely immigration.vn and xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn. As a result, TAB proposed merging the two websites into one to facilitate the e-visa applying for foreign visitors to Vietnam.
TAB also suggested four solutions to improve the situation, which are enhancing the consistency of information regarding visa policy, improving e-visa and online infrastructure, extending visa exemption, and improving the process of applying for the visa at the border gate.
The visa exemption should be adjusted to "a maximum of 30 days" to attract long-haul visitors instead of 15 days as currently.
Visa policy is the most improved indicator in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness ranking of Vietnam, announced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2019, jumping 63 places from 116/136 to 53/140, contributing to making Vietnam the country with the fastest-growing competitive index in Asia – Pacific.
However, the index is just equivalent to that of Brunei and much lower the ASEAN countries’ including Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. As a result, the improvement of visa policy together with the draft on Immigration Law is necessary.
The deadline for the unilateral visa exemption for Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden will expire on December 31. In 2018, the number of tourists from Russia, Japan and the RoK accounted for about one-third of the total international visitors to Vietnam. Therefore, TAB proposes extending visa exemption for these countries for the next 5 years.