Hanoi – Will Vietnam’s tourism see a boost soon?
Industry insiders are optimistic about future prospects as the Government
weighs up a 90-day e-visa to gain
a competitive edge as a leading tourism destination.
Travel companies are anticipating that if the decision is
finalised in the ongoing National Assembly’s meeting, which started on May 22, the
sector could take advantage of the change right from the travelling season
starting in September and achieve the goal of eight million foreign
tourists for this year.
As of the end of April, Vietnam has welcomed nearly 3.7
million international arrivals, reaching nearly half of the goal it has
set for 2023.
However, these figures hint that Vietnam’s tourism
rebound is still underway – the 2023 goal is modest compared to the
country’s record 18 million international arrivals in 2019.
Pham Ha, CEO of travel business Lux Group told Vietnam News: “Open policies like this will
be a driving force for tourism.
“I believe that with other comprehensive policies, Vietnam can
receive eight million foreign visitors within the year 2023.”
The visa validity extension has been a long-awaited decision for
many travel agencies, as it allows easier, longer stay in Vietnam and,
therefore, more economic revenue, Ha added.
Le Hong Thai, Hanoitourist’s CEO, said: “Statistics revealed that
international tourists’ spending is around 11 times more than that of domestic.
“It means that even if we have 100 million local tourists, it
still will not bring in as much as the goal we have set out for this year,
which is eight million.”
While these numbers are only comparative, the difference is
evident, he said.
“This is why more favourable conditions are needed and why we have
to attract international tourists to Vietnam now,” said Thai.
According to Lux Group CEO Pham Ha, a competition has been going
on between popular tourist destinations, especially for retirees and digital
nomads who will readily stay in a country for a longer time for a
The 90-day visa, however, is expected to go beyond catering to
foreigners looking for an extended tropical getaway.
Le Hong Thai believed that Vietnam can position itself as a main
transit point to its advantage, especially when tourists plan to visit multiple
countries in the region.
This is where the extended visa – single or multiple-entry – plays
an important role.
He said: “Korean tourists, for example, will arrive here [in Hanoi]
for a few days, then they go to Da Nang, and then they fly to Siem Reap
(Cambodia). After two or three days in Siem Reap, they will return to Vietnam
to fly back to the Republic of Korea.”
“In this case, if their visa is single-entry then it is not
possible. But if we issue multiple-entry visas, they can arrive and return to Vietnam
multiple times within 90 days, which is a major advantage.”
The same could also be said for European tourists, Thai
“For instance, French or UK tourists come here and also want to
visit Laos and Cambodia, but there’s no direct flight back home from those
locations, so they will return to Vietnam,” he said.
However, many concerns have been raised about whether people will
take advantage of this visa policy for purposes other than travelling.
Thai said: “Many experts have posed this question, and I believe
that the answer lies in the registration form that international arrivals have
to fill in when they want to apply for a visa to Vietnam.”
The document requires stating the purpose of the visit, whether
it’s tourism, business, visiting relatives or other.
This is what state management agencies and officers can base on
for review and monitoring.
“I think that when state management agencies strengthen their
inspection and supervision, this [visa] policy is definitely
possible,” said Thai.
“The result we want to achieve is to promote the development of
our tourism sector compared with other countries in the Southeast Asian
In a report
addressing these concerns on May 16, on behalf of the Prime
Minister, Minister of Public Security To Lam said that e-visa issuance is
conducted through pre-approval of personnel.
Therefore, the policy responds to management demands by helping
immigration offices screen people who do not meet the requirements for
While the 90-day visa proposal is collectively viewed as a boost
for the sector, industry experts believe that the policy alone will not be able
to transform the entire tourism landscape.
According to Lux Group CEO Pham Ha, in addition to the
comprehensive policies to address the bottlenecks in Vietnam’s tourism, the
sector’s human resources also needs to be improved, while new, better
experiences must be designed, especially with the post-pandemic demands.
Phung Quang Thang, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Society of Travel
Agents (VISTA), said: “Perhaps the number of international visitors to Vietnam
last year fell short of the goal we have set out, as well as in comparison with
other competitive destinations.
“However, how each country’s destination recovers [post-COVID]
depends on its existing conditions.”
According to Thang, in both groups of international and domestic
visitors, a majority travel in small groups or even solo.
“During their trip, they will need a lot of public
services,” he said. “But obviously, the infrastructure is
in different levels of development in each country, and therefore has a certain
impact on the number of tourists in that destination.”
The VISTA vice chairman said that this is a comprehensive problem
that is not easy to solve, and many of the factors involved belong to the
subjective and objective context of each destination.
He added: “It could be said that the number of arrivals will
clearly increase with favourable visa policies for tourism and business to Vietnam.
However, it does not mean that the growth will be as we expected.
“Achieving the set goal concerns many other factors, such as new
and unique tourism products and easier access to locations. But that is only
the first impression, and it’s not enough.
“Tourists must have a great experience during their extended stay
in Vietnam, and the goal we aim at is that when they return home, they will
introduce Vietnam to their families and friends and especially feel the need to
travel to Vietnam again.”/.