Relevant agencies are seeking central government approval to waive tourist visa requirements for France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada. The proposal was made by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Transport to draw more visitors from those markets, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
A survey conducted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) found that Western European visitors often spend more money and stay longer than others.
Meanwhile, Australian and Kiwi visitors often visit during traditional low seasons.
In addition, Canada has remained one of the fifteen leaders in providing tourists, while India remains an important source of visitors, the survey found.
According to VNAT, international tourists often spend between US$1,200-1,500 per trip; a visa exemption is expected to significantly increase tourism revenues.
Vietnam currently offers a 30-day visa waiver for tourists from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc (except for Bruneians who receive a 14 day waiver). Visitors from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Russia get a 15-day waiver.
Statistics from tourism promotion agencies in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia show that tourist arrivals increased with visa waivers.
Thailand currently grants visa exemptions for 61 countries and territories. Malaysia exempts visa requirements for visitors from 155 countries and territories and Singapore exempts visas for visitors from 165 countries and territories.
In June, the Vietnam Business Forum, a consortium of international and local business associations and chambers of commerce, urged Vietnam to relax its visa procedures following a dip in tourism arrivals that followed deadly anti-China riot in May.
China’s deployment of a giant US$-1 billion oil rig in Vietnamese waters on May 2 triggered peaceful anti-China protests that erupted into violence in central and southern Vietnam two weeks later.
Despite “significant growth” in visitor arrivals in the first four months of this year, the riots reversed the trend, according to the findings of a report presented by the VBF at a June meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Hotels have seen many tour operators cancel trips through the end of June and many multinationals have continued to restrict travel to Vietnam, the report said.
“Whilst Russian visitor arrivals have been largely unaffected, the main impact has been on visitors from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia,” it said.
The VBF’s Tourism Working Group also conducted a small-scale survey showing that just 18 of Vietnam's 640 hotels lost over $1.8 million or 14,945 room night cancellations through July.