Illustrative Image (Source: mofa.gov.vn)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has proposed extending the visa exemption policy for citizens from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Germany and Italy from one year to five years.

The ministry announced on April 28 that it also proposed increasing visa-free stay for those tourists from 15 to 30 days to meet their demands.

The ministry also suggested the government approve its proposal to offer unilateral visa exemption for citizens from another 13 countries who travel to Vietnam on full-package tours.

It submitted to the Prime Minister a visa waiver scheme for tourists from several key markets as well as granting visas at border gates and e-visas to facilitate travelling.

After nearly 10 months of offering visa waiver for Belarus and five Western European countries, travellers from these markets have been on the rise.

Figures from the General Statistics Office showed that tourist arrivals to Vietnam in the third and fourth quarter of 2015, and the first three months of 2016 increased by 4.24 percent, 16.49 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

The total number of travellers from the five above countries topped 554,000 in the last nine months, up 13.91 percent from 2014 and 2015.

Last year, Belarusian visitors to Vietnam neared 6,000, a 65 percent increase from 2014 –
a record high compared to past years.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), tourists from the five Western European countries have brought Vietnam an increase of more than 171 million USD in revenue.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)’s visa openness report showed that the share of tourists requiring to obtain a visa prior to travelling continues to decline, from 77 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2015.

In Asia-Pacific last year, nearly 20 percent of the world population was able to travel to a destination without a visa, while another 23 percent could receive a visa on arrival and 11 percent was able to obtain e-visas.

The total number of countries and territories enjoying visa exemption amounts to 169 so far.-VNA