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Vietnam expands visa exemption to boost international tourism growth

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Vietnam aims to attract more international visitors by expanding its visa exemption policy, enhancing ease of travel and tourism opportunities.

Vietnam is poised to elevate its tourism sector to new heights with the planned expansion of its visa exemption policy, a strategic move aimed at attracting a larger influx of international tourists and solidifying its position as a premier travel destination in Southeast Asia. The announcement was made by Hoang Nhan Chinh, the head of the Secretariat of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), highlighting a progressive step towards enhancing Vietnam’s accessibility to global travelers.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh directed the Ministry of Public Security to explore the possibility of extending the visa exemption policy to additional countries. This initiative is in response to evolving global dynamics and the desire to strengthen diplomatic relations through tourism. Vietnam currently facilitates visa-free entry for citizens from 25 countries, a list that includes major European nations, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and several Nordic countries.

In a significant policy shift since August 2023, Vietnam has embraced the issuance of electronic visas to citizens of all countries, extending the permissible stay from 30 to 90 days with the option of multiple entries. Moreover, the duration of stay for nationals from countries with unilateral visa exemptions has been increased to 45 days, up from the initial 15 days, thereby encouraging longer visits and increased expenditure within the country.

This visa policy innovation is not merely a logistical adjustment but a strategic endeavor to diversify Vietnam’s tourism market. According to Chinh, such reforms are essential for tapping into new tourist demographics and reviving the industry post-COVID-19 pandemic. The anticipated outcome is a notable surge in tourism revenue, job creation, and an upswing in international trade and investment opportunities.

Vietnam’s move comes at a time when Southeast Asian counterparts like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore are intensifying efforts to lure tourists by easing entry requirements. With Thailand granting visa exemptions to 76 countries, Malaysia to 156, and Singapore to 162, the competition for attracting international tourists is fiercer than ever.

Despite the improvements in visa facilitation, challenges remain, particularly with the e-visa application process, which has been criticized for its complexity and the time required for approval. Streamlining these procedures could further enhance Vietnam’s appeal as a travel destination.

The expansion of the visa exemption policy is part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate Vietnam’s tourism sector. This approach includes tackling internal industry challenges such as marketing, product diversification, destination management, and human resource development. By focusing on both immediate and long-term solutions, Vietnam is setting the stage for sustained growth in its tourism industry, promising a richer and more accessible travel experience for visitors from around the globe.

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