Visa exemptions to help regain tourism
Update: May 26, 2015
Exempting visa for citizens from key tourist markets would help boost tourism amidst a recent fall in the number of international visitors, experts said.

They spoke during a workshop held by the Viet Nam Tourism Association in Ha Noi on May 25. The Government should give visa exemptions to citizens of France, the UK, Germany and Australia to encourage visitors from these nations, they said.

Viet Nam unilaterally exempts visas for citizens of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Russia. It bilaterally grants 30-day exemptions for citizens from nine out of the 10 ASEAN member states.

The number of international holidaymakers dropped from June 2014 to April 2015, with the growth rate falling from 34.8% in 2010 to 4% in 2014.

Chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Association Nguyen Huu Tho attributed the decline in numbers to changes in visa, transit and cruise travel regulations and the National Administration of Tourism's ineffective co-ordination between localities.

He said he regarded existing tourism promotion efforts unprofessional, adding that there was a shortage of large-scale promotion campaigns. The prevalence of ineffective small-scale campaigns has muted the tourism industry's image domestically and internationally, he added.

Insufficient support for the creation of tourism services and a lack of qualified staff were also contributing factors, Tho said.

He also highlighted a number of global economic developments, such as the appreciation of USD, the depreciation of EUR and JPY, and falling oil prices, which undermined people's willingness to spend money on travel.

Many localities have re-established tourism departments under the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Experts said travel companies should participate more in promotion programmes and strengthen ties with their counterparts to provide high-quality, affordable services.