The visa issue remains a primary obstacle that needs to be addressed to attract more foreign visitors to Vietnam, according to travel experts. In addition to implementing a series of synchronous solutions such as technological advancements, tourism promotion, product innovation, etc., it is essential to unlock this door to enhance visitor spending and retention.
Visa regulations as the gateway to Vietnam’s international tourism
Dr. Pham Trung Luong, former deputy director of the Institute of Tourism Development, stated during the “Opening visas, restoring tourism” seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 10 that the contribution of international visitors to the economic development of any country is significant.
Dr. Luong identified several factors, including specificity of tourism products, cultural and environmental aspects, and destination amenities, as reasons that deter international visitors from traveling to Vietnam, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.
From a tourism research perspective, Dr. Luong highlighted that visas are the most significant obstacle for international tourists. Visa regulations have been an issue for a long time and need to be addressed to facilitate international tourism.
Sun Group’s resort hotel system, like many other tourist establishments, is struggling to maintain operations amid the absence of international guests.
Ms. Tran Nguyen, Deputy General Director of Sun World Division – Sun Group, mentioned that after tourism reopened, the number of visitors decreased significantly. The occupancy rate of InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort and JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay was over 80% in 2019, and now it’s only 30-40%.
“Visa regulations are the gateway to Vietnam, but retaining visitors requires exceptional products and services. Visitors not only spend, but also serve as ambassadors for Vietnam’s tourism,” said Ms. Tran Nguyen.
Sun Group proposed expanding the scope of countries that are exempted from unilateral visas in the short term. Specifically, they recommended expanding visa exemption to all countries that are granted electronic visas to Vietnam to welcome international visitors during the summer of 2023.
Promoting Vietnam tourism
Mr. Trinh Ngoc Thanh, Deputy General Director of Commercial Vietnam Airlines, stated that while promoting tourism, the visa regulation is one of the factors that tourists consider when selecting a destination. Vietnam’s tourism promotion program must be promoted continuously in the future to attract international visitors.
Additionally, Vietnam should establish tourism promotion offices abroad to attract visitors to Vietnam.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said that the unit has proposed mechanisms and policies to remove visa-related difficulties and obstacles for travel businesses. However, several policies still need to be addressed to welcome international visitors to the city.
In general, Ho Chi Minh City’s tourism industry needs to implement policies, products, and promotional programs to attract visitors as the number of international visitors has yet to recover. Therefore, solutions should focus on policy improvements, innovative products, and effective promotional programs.