Vietnam Visa News

Vietnam’s int’l tourist numbers down for 12th straight month

Vietnam’s international tourist arrival numbers dropped for the 12th consecutive month in May but the government said it needs more time to consider scrapping visa requirements for more countries.

More than 576,000 international tourists visited Vietnam this month, a 16.4% drop compared to May 2014, the General Statistics Office reported on May 28.

Total foreign tourist arrival numbers in the first five months of this year reached more than 3.27 million, another 12.6% decline from the same period last year.

Vietnam’s international tourist count has fallen for 12 months in a row despite complaints and calls for help from industry insiders.

Although there are several problems that discourage global vacationers from spending their holidays in Vietnam, the country’s visa requirements emerge as one of the most crucial issues.

International tourists currently have to meet strict requirements, complete complicated procedures, and pay high fees to get a visa for their Vietnam trip, industry insiders said at a conference held by the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) in Hanoi on June 1.

VITA suggested that the government waive visas for vacationers from France, the UK, Germany, and Australia, which are always in the top ten of Vietnam’s largest sources of tourists.

“Waiving visas is the initial step in attracting tourists to Vietnam,” VITA deputy chairman Vu The Binh said.

Binh also urged the government to waive visa fees for all international tourists for the second half of this year.

Any international tourists who visit Vietnam between July and December should be entitled to a zero visa fee, whereas local tour organizers who join a national campaign to boost tourism should be allowed to pay zero value-added tax for one year, according to the VITA official.

While VITA did not elaborate whether it would submit an official proposal, the Government Office addressed the issue during a regular meeting on Thursday.

“The government has acknowledged that there must be synchronous solutions for resolving the issues in the tourist industry, which is greatly affected by the declining tourist arrival numbers,” Minister Nguyen Van Nen, head of the Government Office, said at the meeting.

Waiving visa requirements for more countries will create the most convenient conditions for tourists, but the government has “yet to decide which countries to scrap visas for,” Nen said, adding this is because of mixed opinions about the issue.

“We need more time to consider before giving the final decision,” he said.

ASEAN tourists are now exempt from visas when visiting Vietnam, as are those from seven other key markets, including Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

ASEAN is a ten-member bloc which includes Southeast Asian countries- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Source: Tuoitrenews