Tourism industry insiders want the government to consider waiving visas for nationals of more countries as Vietnam fully reopens its borders to visitors next month.
Luong Hoai Nam, a member of the Tourism Advisory Board, speaking at a conference on Thursday, said the relaxation in the visa policy is necessary to attract more foreign tourists to the country.
He suggested that the government should waive visas for visitors from the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the case of major tourism markets like China and the U.S., the government also needs to consider long-term visas of up to 10 years to attract visitors from there, he said.
“Now it is difficult for us to attract foreign tourists unlike before the pandemic, and many tourists will refuse to return to Vietnam if the country requires a visa while many regional countries have relaxed visa policies.”
Before the pandemic, Vietnam did not require visas for travelers from 24 countries, compared to Thailand’s 61, Singapore’s 158, Malaysia’s 155, and Indonesia’s 169.
In the best case, the aviation industry expects to carry 42-43 million passengers this year, equivalent to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, including around six million foreign tourists, he added.
Vietnam has resumed commercial flights to 20 out of 28 countries and territories it normally flies to.
This year, Vietnam has set a target of welcoming five to six million foreign tourists.
In 2019, the year before the onset of the pandemic, the country welcomed a record of 18 million foreign tourists.
From March 15, Vietnam will reopen inbound and outbound tourism under new normal conditions, with foreign tourists allowed to visit the country without booking tour packages.