Foreign tourists expect a breakthrough in Vietnam’s visa policy.

Foreign tourists expect a breakthrough in Vietnam's visa policy

As the Vietnamese government begins to consider loosening visa regulations to promote the recovery of the tourism industry, foreign tourists are waiting for new entry policies.

Michael Burger, an American, told VnExpress International that he hopes the government will expand the list of countries exempted from visas to Vietnam as Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries have done.

“The maximum [visa-free] stay needs to be a minimum of 30 days, which will allow travelers to maximize their time in Vietnam,” he said. “This would be a step in the right direction.”

Vietnam is visa-free for visitors from 24 countries compared to 162 for Malaysia, 157 for the Philippines and 65 for Thailand.

The visa-free stay is 30 days for ASEAN members, 90 days for Chileans and 15 days for tourists from other countries.

Ken Rafter, a retiree from Australia, is also waiting for a breakthrough in Vietnam’s visa policy next year. He hopes Australia will be added to the list of visa-exempt countries.

“Vietnam is on my overseas travel map for 2023,” added Rafter. “I’m planning to visit Sapa and Nha Trang, but definitely Hoi A again.”

Justin Douglas, an American, wants Vietnam to return to its previous visa policy three months ago to give tourists more time to explore the remote parts of the country.

“One thing I never had the opportunity to do before the pandemic was do a cycling tour around Sa Pa and Ha Giang,” he said. “It is very difficult to do such a trip in 30 days, it takes a lot of time to prepare in Hanoi first and rest afterwards.”

“I want to stay longer with or without a visa,” Douglas added.

Vietnam currently offers one-month entry e-visas to visitors from 80 countries. The pre-Covid three-month multiple-entry visa has not yet been re-issued.

Tired of running visas every month, Germany’s Peter Zimmermann also hopes the three-month visa policy will come into force again next year.

“After 45 days of visa exemption in Thailand, my wife and I are currently in Vietnam on a 30-day e-visa,” he said. “On January 2, time is up and we will have to leave Vietnam.”

Zimmerman said he and his wife are retired and want to escape the cold European winters, but leaving the country every 30 days and paying a lot of money to do so is not feasible.

“We would love to come back to Vietnam in 2023,” he added, “but only if we have a visa for the past three months.”

Industry insiders agree that the current visa policy is one of the main bottlenecks hindering the recovery of Vietnam’s tourism. They say the country is likely to receive only about 3.5 million international visitors this year, well below its target of 5 million.

Some of Vietnam’s Southeast Asian neighbors such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have already achieved their goals.

Facing the bleak outlook of the industry, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung proposed the Government consider extending the visa exemption period for foreign tourists to 30 days and issue electronic visas. for citizens of all countries and territories.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh directed relevant agencies to create more favorable conditions for tourists and develop new tourism products to promote the tourism industry to recover to pre-pandemic levels.