Vietnam to ease visa rules


Following pressure from airline operators and representative bodies, Vietnam is set to ease visa regulations for incoming passengers.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng has given the green light for new rules on visa applications from selected European and Australasian destinations.

Currently, arriving passengers need to apply for visas before travel but this will be changed to short-term, visa-free travel over the next 12 months for arrivals from Australia, Belarus, France, the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Spain.

“Tourists from the selected countries will be given a 15-day stay over a five-year period,” said Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) CEO Nguyen Anh Tuan.

Rapidly growing local carriers and bodies such as IATA have long pressed for an easing of complex and expensive visa requirements for entry to the country. IATA CEO Tony Tyler recently spoke of the “lost opportunities” from the country’s over-rigorous visa system.

“Every tourist that decides to have a holiday in a neighboring country because of Vietnam’s visa process is a lost economic opportunity,” he said.

Vietnam currently offers visa-free travel only to passengers from the Nordic countries, Japan, South Korea and Russia—plus ASEAN member nations.

According to IATA, the aviation industry contributed $6 billion to Vietnam’s GDP in 2013, with revenues growing by 96% in the previous five years.

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