Foreign tourists in Ben Thanh market in HCM City(Photo: VNA)
 
HCM City (VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Tourism has proposed the Government extend its visa exemption policy for international tourists from nine countries to 30 days from 15 days to promote tourism development to help reach the city’s target of 10-11 million international tourists in 2020.

The countries are Sweden, Denmark, Russia, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Accordingly, people from the above-mentioned countries would not have to apply for a visa if their stay in Vietnam does not exceed 30 days, instead of 15 days of the current policy.

The department said the Government should extend the policy for people from these countries so that they may stay a longer time in a more convenient and less expensive way.

[HCM City’s tourism association seeks visa exemptions extension]

Last year, about 5.2 million international tourists came to the city, an increase of 10 percent compared to 2015.

During the last two years, the number of tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain increased by 14 percent each year, thanks in part to the latest visa exemption policy.

The department said the visa exemption policy should be for five years.

Travel expert Huynh Van Son said: "It will be hard for Vietnam’s tourism growth to catch up with other countries in the region if the Government and relevant agencies do not seek solutions to improve standards and streamline procedures for visa requirements".

Research by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) showed that based on the visa-free policy, the number of international tourists that come to ASEAN countries increased by 3-5 percent per year, bringing significant economic benefits with them.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Vietnam’s tourism ranked 22nd in terms of Price Competitiveness of 141 countries, but 119th in terms of visa requirements.

Only visitors from 22 countries are granted visas exemptions in Vietnam while Indonesia is exempting visas for visitors from 169 countries and territories, the Philippines 165, Singapore 158, Malaysia 155, Thailand 61, Laos 40 and Cambodia 25.

Earlier, the city’s Tourism Association urged the Government to extend the visa waiver for tourists from the 12 countries and territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, France, Spain, Brazil, India, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia.-VNA