HCM City officials seek visa-free stay extention

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Ho Chi Minh City tourism authorities want the visa-free stay for European travellers doubled to 30 days.

HCM City officials seek visa-free stay extention

The Government will allow nationals of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to enter Vietnam without a visa for up to 15 days starting this month in an effort to reverse a decline in foreign arrivals.

In the first half of this year Ho CHi Minh City attracted more than 2.16 million international visitors, up 3% year-on-year, but the figure for the entire country slumped by 11.3% to around 3.8 million.

To attract more foreign visitors, travel firms in Ho Chi Minh City said Europeans should be offered a longer visa-free stay to enable them to do trans-Vietnam tours or take in Cambodia and Laos as well, according to the city Department of Tourism.

Many European tour operators have complained that Vietnam’s visa policy for nationals of the five European countries is not as liberal as expected because they are required to apply for a visa if they stay more than 15 days in Vietnam or return to Vietnam after finishing their tours in a third country. Besides, the waiver is for only a 12-month period and an extension is under consideration. This is not of much use for European tourists who often make travel plans very early.

The city Department of Tourism is preparing to pass on the travel firms’ demand to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Vietnam also waives visas for citizens of ASEAN member countries, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Belarus, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.