Expert urges for more flexible visa policy for Vietnam tourism takeoff
  • By Ha Trang | | December 11, 2019 04:28 PM
A friendly visa policy is among major reasons to help boost the Vietnamese tourism development, said Kenneth Atkinson, vice president of Tourism Advisory Board (TAB).

He made the suggestion at the Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit held in Hanoi Monday.


Kenneth Atkinson, vice president of Tourism Advisory Board at  the Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit speaks at the summit

In 2016, Vietnam lured up to 781,000 visitors from five Western European countries, up 19% on-year, which was mainly attributed to the country’s free-visa travel for these nations. The tourist increase helped to add up to USD150 million for the Vietnamese tourism industry’s revenues in the year, according to Atkinson.

Earlier, Vietnam News Agency cited Hoang Nhan Chinh, head of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board secretariat, as saying that Vietnam currently grants visa-waiver scheme for tourists from 26 countries. The figure is quite low compared to the visa-free travel for 57 nationalities to Thailand, 168 nationalities to Indonesia, 162 nationalities to Malaysia and 132 nationalities to the Philippines.

The 15-day limit for travel has also puzzled tourists from long-distance European countries. They say a complete tour should be 20 to 30 days to take in the main sites in Vietnam.

Atkinson added that Vietnam has attracted more foreign visitors, but in reality, their return rate to the country remains low.

He frankly pointed out that Vietnam needs to improve tourism service quality and more actively co-operate with international airlines to open direct flights to Europe.

Gareth Ward, the British Ambassador to Vietnam, said the Vietnamese tourism sector should pay more attention to the fight against plastic waste to help ensure more sustainable development. 

Meanwhile, Chu Viet Cuong, a representative from local budget carrier VietJet Air, mentioned that Vietnam now has 22 airports, but most of them are facing over-capacity. He wanted more private investment to ease the situation like in many other countries such as Thailand.

He also recommended more investment for the training of pilots and aircraft engineers as well as ground service staff.

At the summit, many delegates agreed that USD2 million was too modest for tourism promotion annually. They expected agencies to have more effective ways for the promotion in the context of the limited funding.


Foreign tourists in Vietnam

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Quang Tung said that the ministry would consider the proposals and submit the government for consideration.

The General Statistics Office reported that Vietnam served 1.8 million foreign tourists in November, up 39% on-year. The country expects to welcome 18 million foreign visitors by the end-year.

Vietnam ranks 63rd among 140 countries and territories in the recently released Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019, jumping four places compared to the 2017 ranking and 10 places against the 2016 ranking.

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