Vietnam should extend visa exemption policies for foreign tourists to encourage more visitors to return, say tourism insiders.
Federal Travel Company director-general Tu Quy Thanh said foreign tourists who receive visa exemptions are currently allowed to stay in Vietnam for only 15 days, less than the average time they often want to stay.
He says the visa exemption policy would need to be applied for up to 30 days like other countries because many tourists travel from the west, and 15 days is not long enough to stay here.
According to tourism companies the visa policy should be reformed to create better conditions for tourists.
Luxury Travel Company founder and CEO Pham Ha said tourists staying longer would spend more and boost the economy.
He believed the state should increase the amount of time they are allowed to visit without a visa, making Vietnam more competitive with neighbouring countries.
At the midterm Vietnam Business Forum 2019 last month, the tourism working group proposed exemption policies, adding that Vietnam must compete with many countries in attracting foreign visitors, especially with Southeast Asian nations.
According to travel companies, many potential markets need to be exempt from visas to stimulate tourism, including large markets who spend big and stay longer, such as Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, India, and the EU.
They also are member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
But many who work in the sector think as well as improving visa conditions, products need investment to encourage people to stay longer and come back.
Vietravel Tourism Company director-general Nguyen Quoc Ky said international visitors had a longer average stay than to some Asean countries but spend less.
Foreign visitors stay in Vietnam on average 9.5 days, spending $96 per person, while they stay on average only 3.4 days in Singapore, spending $325 and 9.5 days in Thailand, spending $163.
That is due to Vietnam not having many tourism products and programmes to stimulate spending.
The number of international visitors to Vietnam in the first half of this year hit 8.5 million, 7.5 per cent more than in the first half of last year.
Vu Quoc Tri, Chief of Office at the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said 2019 is the fourth consecutive year that Vietnam tourism gained high growth rate in most markets.
Asian visitors accounted for 77 per cent of the total foreign visitors to Vietnam, up 8.2 per cent year-on-year. Visitors from Europe were 14.1 per cent, up 5.5 per cent while visitors from the US accounted for 6.1 per cent, up 5.2 per cent.
In the first six months of this year, tourists from Thailand had the highest growth rate at 45.5 per cent. This is also the biggest growth of the Thai tourists to Vietnam ever. Meanwhile, visitors from Indonesia increased by 22 per cent and the Philippines up by 20.4 per cent.
According to the VNAT, in the last six months of this year, Vietnam’s tourism sector continues to promote growth of both international and domestic tourists.
This year, the nation expects to welcome 17.5-18 million international visitors and 85 million domestic tourists and to gain a total revenue from tourists of about 700 trillion dong ($30 billion).
In the second half of this year, the tourism sector continues to promote tourism with advertisement programmes in many countries such as South Korea, Asean countries, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, the US, Western Europe and Australia.
The number of countries exempt from visas to Vietnam currently stands at 24. Electronic visas are available for foreigners of certain nationalities entering Vietnam. VIET NAM NEWS/ANN