Foreign visitors visiting Vietnam who is having trouble obtaining visas often choose Thailand or Singapore instead. According to experts, the limitations of Vietnam’s tourism are being turned into competitive advantages by competitors in the race to attract foreign tourists.
Dr. Luong Hoai Nam, a travel aviation expert, has stressed several times how painful the process of asking for a visa is for everyone, including ourselves while traveling overseas. Because of this, nations that prioritize developing their tourist industries (like Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia) do their best to eliminate that tiresome process for travelers to as many nations as possible.
Experts from the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) most recently stated in the 2023 White Paper that the strict requirement that all foreign visitors to Vietnam obtain a visa before departure, along with the time and expense associated with this process, is impeding independent travelers from Europe, a high-spending clientele. The number of Chinese or Russian tourists is still restricted, but increasing the number of nations that do not require visas would help diversify the local tourism industry.
“Granting extended-stay visas of three months to European visitors, notably during the winter solstice, will help draw in more high-spending tourists. Retirees who have the leisure and money to remain longer than normal frequently use such long-term tourist visas. Vietnam only exempts entrance visas for 25 countries. In addition, the 15-day visa exemption term is also substantially shorter than other ASEAN nations (30 days or more), which places time limits on tourists and makes it challenging for tour operators to create travel itineraries”, the EuroCham specialist noted.
Concerned about being left far behind in the competition
More than 11.8 million foreign tourists spent 16 billion USD in Thailand in 2022. Vietnam is considerably behind Thailand in terms of recovery rate, both in terms of foreign arrivals (25%) and income from international arrivals (28.6%).
As a rival, Thailand is frequently used as an illustration of a standard model for tourism, policies, and top-notch goods and services. Several academics and business executives in the tourism industry think that Vietnam’s tourism just has to take lessons from Thailand to draw in foreign tourists.
Vietnam’s tourism recovery score ranks at the bottom of the regional ranking despite being one of the first nations to welcome foreign visitors after the Covid-19 outbreak. Just 3.6 million foreign visitors came to Vietnam in 2022, or 70% of the goal.
Many opinions are afraid that if at this rate, countries in the region will increasingly break through, leaving us far behind by taking advantage of the existing points of Vietnam’s tourism, especially in terms of visa policy.
No need to be free, the problem is the procedure
Visa policy is always prioritized over other concerns that need to be taken into account and resolved. No need to be free as long as we simplify the visa application process and promote an online visa policy.
For Vietnam to benefit from this summer’s visa exemption, Ms. Tran Nguyen, Deputy General Director of Sun World Group, suggested that it is urgently necessary to broaden the scope of unilateral visa-free countries, specifically by extending the e-visa exemption to 80 countries on the list of eligible countries.
Long-term plans call for the Law on Foreigners’ Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence in Vietnam to be amended and supplemented, extending the validity of visas from 90 to 180 days and allowing visitors to enter multiple times.
In the White Paper, EuroCham experts also urge the Vietnamese government to take into account allowing upper-class Europeans who wish to spend a long holiday in Vietnam a 3 or 6-month visa exemption. At the same time, it is advisable to expand the list of visa exemptions for all European Union countries. The 30-day visa exemption period should also be considered, as should the possibility of short-term visa exemptions in specific circumstances, such as those involving the organization of exhibitions, forums for promoting trade and investment, and sporting events.