Restrictive Visa Policies Make Vietnam Less Attractive to Tourists

Foreign tourists in Vietnam
Foreign tourists in Vietnam.

Officials in Vietnam say the country’s restrictive visa policies have affected foreign tourist arrivals and have pushed for more open regulations.

According to tourist industry insiders and experts, the list of visa-exempt nations should be expanded further so that tourism can quickly recover and Vietnam can remain competitive, Vietnam News reports.

“The restrictive visa policy has impacted international tourist flows to the country,” said Luong Hoai Nam, a member of the Viet Nam Tourism Advisory Board.

Vietnam should expand the list of visa-exempt countries to as many as Thailand, which grants visa exemptions for tourists from 68 countries, says Nam.

He said that tourists from all European countries should be allowed visa exemptions while speaking at a seminar held by Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper on Friday in HCM City.

Vietnam received 3.5 million international visitor arrivals in 2022, just one-third of Thailand’s figures for the same year.

This number was equal to only one-fifth of the level that Vietnam achieved in 2019.

The entry visa policy, according to Tran Nguyen, Deputy General Director of Sun World, is one of the levers for attracting tourists and increasing competitiveness.

Tourists from 24 countries are granted single-entry visa exemptions in Vietnam, much less than other countries.

The most common visa exemption in Vietnam is 15 days, which is substantially shorter than the visa exemption offered to travelers elsewhere in ASEAN.

Malaysia and Singapore, for example, offer visa exemptions to visitors from 162 nations,  while the Philippines provides vis exemptions to visitors from 157 countries, Japan gives exemptions to 68 countries, South Korea to 66 countries, Thailand to 64 countries.

Thailand has increased the period of stay for visitors from visa-exempt nations to 45 days from 30 days, and for those eligible for a visa on arrival to 30 days from 15 days.

Domestic tourism and hospitality businesses have struggled as a result of a dramatic reduction in international tourists one year after Vietnam reopened its international tourism.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the HCM City Department of Tourism, said the strict visa policy had slowed down international travel.

“Relaxed visa policies are urgently needed to increase tourist flows and facilitate the recovery of the tourism industry which is a major contributor to economic growth and employment in the city,” said Hoa.

Vietnam has set a target to welcome some 8 million foreign tourists this year.