HCM City seeks visa waiver extension to boost tourism

The HCM City People’s Committee wants the Government to extend the visa waiver period for tourists from key foreign markets to increase the country’s tourism competitiveness and attract more visitors.

Foreign visitors at Thiên Hậu Pagoda in HCM City’s Chợ Lớn (Chinatown).

It has proposed that the Government should extend the visa-free stay to 21 days or 30 days from the current 15 for travellers from countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Denmark, South Korea, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain so that they would have enough time to tour the country.

Nationals of 22 countries and territories do not require a visa to enter the country.

It also suggested waiving visas for tourists from five western European countries – the UK, France, German, Italy, and Spain – for five years at a time instead of one year and for tourists from the visa-waiver countries re-entering Việt Nam within 30 days of their last exit.

The number of tourists from the five western European countries has been increasing at 14 per cent a year since the visa-free policy took effect two years ago.

Half of all foreign visitors coming to the country visit the city.

Last year it received more than 6.38 million visitors, a year-on-year increase of 22.8 per cent.

Its tourism revenues rose 12.6 per cent to VNĐ116 trillion (US$5.1 billion), accounting for a fourth of the entire country’s tourism receipts.

It targets 7.5 million foreign visitors this year. —VNS