Foreign tourists visit the War Remnants Museum in HCMC. The city wants a visa-free stay of 30 days for travelers from some European countries instead of the present 15 days.
The Prime Minister issued a decision allowing passport holders from the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain to enjoy a visa waiver for their trips of no more than 15 days in Vietnam from this month as a measure to reverse a decline in foreign arrivals.
In the first half of this year, HCMC attracted more than 2.16 million international visitors, up a mere 3% compared to the same period last year. But international arrivals nationwide dropped 11.3% year-on-year to about 3.8 million.
To attract more foreign visitors to Vietnam, travel firms in HCMC said Europeans should be offered a longer visa-free stay to participate in trans-Vietnam tours or trips taking in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, according to the HCMC Department of Tourism.
Ung Phuong Dung, director of Indochina Services, told the Daily that about 50% of the companya��s European guests book tours of more than 15 days, particularly trans-Indochina trips.
Many European tour operators complained that Vietnama��s visa policy for nationals of the five European countries has not been as liberal as expected because they are required to apply for a visa if they stay more than 15 days in Vietnam and return to Vietnam after finishing their tours in a third country.
In addition, the Government only allows a one-year visa exemption period for passport holders of the five European nations before considering extension. This is not favorable for European tourists who often draw up travel plans long before their departures.
The HCMC Department of Tourism is preparing to submit the proposals of local travel firms to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for it to forward them to the Government.
In addition to visa waivers for citizens of the ASEAN countries, Vietnam has granted unilateral visa exemptions for Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Belarus, Japan and South Korea.
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