Vietnam links visa-waiver to agents

Vietnam’s government is seeking feedback from relevant authorities on a proposal to grant visa-free entry for visitors, but only for those who buy tour packages through authorized travel agencies.

Saigon Times claimed the visa-free service would apply to tourist who bought tour packages from “certain Vietnamese international travel agents”. It would also be limited to specific nationalities that were on a tourism priority list.

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism head, Nguyen Van Tuan, was quoted saying the government has asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant agencies to provide urgent feedback on the proposal.

“The government has just made the order and we will immediately start studying its possibility,” the VNAT head said.

Hints on the countries, or Vietnamese tour organisers that would gain access to the visa concession, were few and far between, but officials did say it would involve major travel firms that already generate substantial bookings for the country.

The proposed policy is the latest move to expand tourism and ensure the country gains market share on its rivals in Southeast Asia.

Linking visa-free travel to travel agencies will also be welcomed by the trade as it will give them a competitive advantage when selling travel over online travel agencies.

Starting 1 July, citizens from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy were granted visa exemptions to visit Vietnam for up to 15 days. That particular waiver applies for one year.

The visa exemption for Belarus also started 1 July, valid until 2020.

Vietnam also offers visa-free travel to seven countries; Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia.

It also has a visa-free policy for nine ASEAN countries; Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

The country will allow foreigners married to Vietnamese, resident in the country or overseas, visa-free entry effective 15 November.

It should encourage more than 4.5 million Vietnamese, who are working and living outside Vietnam, to return home on holidays more frequently by easing entry procedures.

Vietnam is making the effort to win back foreign visitors, after international arrivals dropped continuously from May 2014.

From January to October this year, the country welcomed 6,338,611 international tourists down 4.1%.


Photo by namho

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