Expanding Visa Exemption in Vietnam to Boost Tourism Demand

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has urged the Ministry of Public Security to review the possibility of broadening visa exemptions for citizens from select countries in light of the current circumstances and bilateral cooperation.

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A recent decree issued by the Prime Minister has called for a review of the unilateral visa exemption policies for citizens of 13 countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will collaborate with the Ministry of Public Security to propose an expansion of the list of countries whose citizens are unilaterally exempted from visas.

Currently, Vietnam applies a unilateral visa exemption policy for citizens from 13 countries including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus.

Foreign visitors are eager to discover Vietnamese culture during the Lunar New Year holiday. (Photo: VOV)

Last year, Vietnam welcomed 12.6 million foreign visitors, nearly 3.5 times higher than in 2022. This year, it aims to attract between 17 and 18 million international visitors, equivalent to the pre-pandemic figure.

Under a new bill that took effect on August 15, 2023, the country now grants three-month tourist visas for citizens from all countries and territories, as opposed to the previous 30 days. Foreigners will be able to enter and exit the nation multiple times within the approved duration without going through new visa procedures.

Foreigners subject to visa exemption will be granted a temporary residence certificate at international border gates, which will be valid for 45 days compared to the current 15-day period. They will also be considered for visa issuance and temporary residence extensions according to regulations.

Experts and businesses agree that Vietnam needs to continue relaxing visa policies to create a competitive advantage comparable to other countries in the region and achieve a breakthrough in tourism this year.

Currently, Vietnam waives visas for travelers from 25 countries, while Malaysia and Singapore waive visas for 162 countries, the Philippines for 157 countries, Japan for 68 countries, the Republic of Korea for 66 countries, and Thailand for 64 countries.

Experts recommend that Vietnam unilaterally expand visa exemptions for citizens of countries with higher levels of development, large tourism spending, and long-term stays. These countries include Australia, Canada, the United States, as well as the remaining countries of the European Union (the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium…), along with some countries in the Middle East such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The government should also consider piloting visa exemptions for short periods, ranging from 6 months to 1 year for tourists from potential, large-scale markets such as China, India, and Taiwan (China). This will stimulate tourism demand and contribute to the recovery and strong development of these markets.

VOV