HCM City proposes visa exemption extension

The HCM City Tourism Association has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on further extension of visa exemption for tourists coming from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

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Pedal power: Foreign tourists enjoy a cyclo tour in HCM City. Photo Thu Hang

The visa waiver programme for five European countries will expire at the end of June.

It remains unclear if the Government will extend the visa waiver, causing uncertainty to the tourism industry and making it difficult for tourism agencies to develop marketing plans for these markets, the association said.

The visa waiver for tourists which began in mid-2015 has helped increase the number of foreign visitor arrivals.

The association has asked the government to approve exemptions for five years instead of renewals every year, and to increase the maximum stay to 30 days from the current 15.

The association chairwoman, Nguyen Thi Khanh, also asked the government to exempt visas from other countries, including from key markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Austria, Netherlands, and Belgium.

Arrivals from these markets have risen sharply, with many people taking a long vacation and spending a lot, Khanh said.

Visa waivers for citizens from five Western European countries reportedly increased arrivals from these markets by 10.1 per cent, according to the Viet Nam Tourism Advisory Board.

Last year, the country welcomed 370,000 Australian tourists with an average spending of US$1,470 a person.

The country will receive an additional 37,000 Australia visitors and earn an extra US$54 million with a 10 per cent increase in arrivals, while visa exemptions will result in a deficit of US$9.2 million in visa fees, the tourism board said.

In the first three months of the year, the number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam surged by 30.9 per cent compared to the same period last year to reach 4.2 million, according to the General Statistics Office.

Over the period, HCM City welcomed nearly 2 million foreign tourists, accounting for half of the total number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam.

Source: VietNamNet

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