Many European tourists would choose Indonesia, Thailand for long holiday instead of Vietnam because they don’t have to apply for visa when visiting these countries.
For the past 10 years, Thomas (France) and Araya, Thai girlfriend, have stayed in many places in Europe, Hong Kong, Japan … In August, they flew from France to Bangkok to visit Araya’s parents. On the way back, they visited Hanoi for the first time. They had a chance to meet with friends in Vietnam, took some nice tours and they just regretted not to visit the country earlier.
After the trip, Thomas explored more destinations throughout Vietnam. The 40-year-old engineer enjoyed the northern mountainous exploration. For his lover, he also plans to stay in Nha Trang and go to Ho Chi Minh City
Travelers from countries with prolonged cold winters prefer long-term stays at beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
Before getting new jobs in early December, Thomas plans to spend whole November in Vietnam. However, when he announced plans to his friends, he was informed that he cannot travel Vietnam with visa free as the previous trip. Vietnam’s visa policy stipulates: “The entry with visa free must be at least 30 days from the last exit from Vietnam” applies to visitors from the country who Vietnam have unilateral visa exemption with.
In addition, French citizens like Thomas are only exempted from visas within 15 days. If he keeps the plan, he has to apply for visa and pay the fee. This made Thomas uncomfortable because he did not encounter this barrier when traveling to other countries in Asia.
“I plan to go to Vietnam for a whole month, but in the meantime I have to fly back to Pattaya (Thailand) for friend’s wedding. This will make me to apply for a visa to enter Vietnam and it is both time and money consuming task “, Thomas said.
Later, he and his girlfriend decided to switch to a vacation in Bali, Indonesia, where they had been in before. “Bali has many fun spots, resort facilities with many nice routes. Moreover, the immigration procedure is more convenient so that we are able to start our trip anytime we can,” Says Thomas. At present, Indonesia gives 30 days visa exemption for the visitors from European countries.
The initial effect of open visa policy
According to Vu The Binh, vice chair of the Vietnam Tourism Association, visa procedures are one of the most important factors in the tourism industry as it demonstrates the openness of the country. Open visa policy can increase a significant number of visitors without affecting the other factors.
In 2017, the number of international visitors to Vietnam is nearly 13 million. One of the reasons for this success comes up with favorable policies, including visa exemptions for 24 countries (Russia, Japan, Korea, five Western European countries) and electronic visas for 46 countries.
However, compared to other countries in the region, the number of Vietnamese visitors is still quite low. Thailand gets 35 million international visitors and Malaysia gets 25 million visitors arriving every year…
European and American travelers often enjoy long journey to explore the mountains or to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Vietnam.
The benefits of “opened visa policy” have been acknowledged since Vietnam began the unilateral visa exemption more than a dozen years ago. According to the Tourism Administration, the number of Korean visitors from 230,000 in 2004 increased to 2.4 million by 2017 (10 times). In the same period, Japanese visitors increased from 267,000 to 700,000.
Similarly, other markets such as Britain, Germany, Spain… have also experienced an increase of 15% each year since the visa exempted.
Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, Deputy General Director of Vietravel, said that the visa exemption helps international visitors save time and money, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of Vietnam’s tourism. In fact, countries that can attract more than 20 million visitors each year,all have opened visa-free policy.
“If we have been considering tourism as leading economic sector, bringing in a large amount of foreign currency to the country, should it be open to visitors.” The number of international visitors coming and spending will be much higher than the income we get from visa, “Phuong Hoang shared.
Inadequacies in Vietnam’s visa policy
With Thomas, he would still be able to start his trip without minding to visa, as long as he only stayed less than 15 days in Vietnam. But many travelers in developed countries in Europe such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal … still have to apply for visas at the representative offices of Vietnam abroad, or apply for visa on arrival or e-visa.
The visa policy of Vietnam is considered strict as there are only 24 countries exempted. This figure is 61 countries in Thailand, 158 countries in Malaysia, 155 in Malaysia and 169 countries in Indonesia. The competitiveness index of Vietnam in the category of visa requirements is in the last category: 116 out of 136 countries surveyed.
Visa, a barrier to tourism in Vietnam
In addition, the countries whose citizens spend much as Europe, America … do not enjoy significant incentives. Some countries still have to apply for Vietnam visas in different ways. The citizens of exempted countries are allowed to stay in Vietnam for only 15 days and a month later, they could return to Vietnam.
Southeast Asian countries have many similar characteristics of landscape such as long coastline, mountainous landscape, affordable prices … Therefore, many foreign visitors are easy to switch their vacation to other countries. The area is more convenient for entry and exit procedures.
Meanwhile, South Korea, Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia, China just has a short trip with little spending amount. According to Hoang Nhan Chinh, head of the Travel Advisory Board (TAB), Vietnam should focus on attracting foreign visitors from Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand. .. who have long travel and spend much.
Therefore, the TAB has proposed to adjust the visa policy for many years so that the tourism industry can achieve the goal of 18.5 million visitors and earn 35 billion USD by 2020. Accordingly, the visa exemption period should increase up to 30 days; abolish the regulation that “Foreigners who enter unilateral visa exemption must be at least 30 days from the last departure from Vietnam”; add more visa-free countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium); and more countries are eligible for electronic visas. TAB hopes that by 2020, Vietnam will exempt visas for 60 countries and apply electronic visas to 80 countries.