Richard Kenneth Wilson of the UK is one of 40 foreigners receiving an electronic visa under a two-year pilot programme launched on February 1 for citizens of 40 countries (Photo: tuoitre.vn)
HCM City (VNA) - Officials of Ho Chi Minh City’s Tourism Department on February 4 welcomed the first foreigner entering Vietnam on an e-visa, Richard Kenneth Wilson of the UK, at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Wilson was one of 40 foreigners receiving an electronic visa under a two-year pilot programme launched on February 1 for citizens of 40 countries.

The countries include Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, China (not applicable to Chinese e-passport holders), Colombia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Myanmar, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Timor Leste, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Applications for the 30-day visas are submitted through http://xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn or http://immigration.gov.vn, and visas or rejections are supplied within three working days.

Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the tourism department, said e-visas are expected to attract more foreign tourists to the city.

Tran Van Long, director of Viet Media Travel, said the new system "catches up with the global trend in developing tourism.” Long suggested the Government add more countries to the list of eligible nationalities once the pilot programmed ends.

Nguyen Duc Tri, head of the Tourism Institute under the Vietnam National University - HCM City, said the e-visas also enable constant updates of foreign tourists visiting the country, helping service providers identify trends and tastes.

In response to questions about the speed of the two new websites, Nguyen Quy Phuong, head of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told Thoi bao kinh te Sai Gon (The Sai Gon Times) that they occasionally were slower than expected in their first days of operation but the immigration agency was working hard to fix the problem.

Vietnam welcomed over one million foreign tourists in January, 23.6 percent higher than the same period last year.-VNA