Vietnam has announced that it is planning a major change to its tourist visa policy, a move meant to woo travelers from the U.S. The Southeast Asian nation has said that it plans to increase the amount of time that tourist visas are valid for American visitors. Currently, travelers from the U.S. can get a visa for either one or three months (with options for single and multiple entries).
The new visas would allow these tourists to stay for a much longer period of time.
A One-Year Tourist Visa For Americans
Under the new plan, visas for U.S. tourists would be good for up to one year and would allow for multiple entries. That is an almost-unheard of length of time for a simple tourist visa.
The policy was announced by Vietnam’s Tourism Minister on a visit to the US State Department. However, the minister, Hoang Tuan Anh, did not make any mention of exactly when this new plan would go into effect.
U.S.-based travelers who are currently preparing to go to Vietnam will still have to apply for visas of the one-month or three-month variety. Even without the yearlong time frame, the country has expedited the visa process. People can now apply for their travel documents online instead of having to go to the Vietnamese embassy. Furthermore, overseas Vietnamese travelers will soon be able to go to Vietnam without applying for any type of visa whatsoever.
Trying to set the stage for a tourism industry boom
Why increase the term of tourist visas for Americans? Tourists from the U.S. have been coming to Vietnam in greater numbers recently. In 2014, more than 440,000 of them traveled here. As of late July, 300,000 have come thus far in 2015. This means that Vietnam is well on the way to beating last year’s numbers. Given the influx of Americans this year, the country’s ultimate goal, one million U.S. passports stamped per year by the end of 2017, does not seem that far-fetched.
Why Vietnam’s tourism industry is set grow
Other countries in the Asia Pacific region have suffered from bad PR this year. Thailand’s security woes and political strife may dissuade tourists for visiting there. South Korea has recently dealt with a highly-publicized MERS outbreak, and China’s economy is lagging badly. The policy moves that Vietnam is making (or plans to make in the near future) are meant to show the world that it is a viable alternative to these other destinations.
The country has an improving infrastructure, and much of the foreign investment, including hotels and resorts, comes from U.S.-based companies. So enticing more American tourists to come here seems like a logical extension of that economic development.
New rules for Europeans too
New visa rules have also made it easier for people from some European countries as well. British visitors can enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. Traveler from Italy, Germany, Spain and France can enjoy the same two-weeks-plus-a-day stay.
No time frame was mentioned when the year-long visas were announced. However, if Vietnam wants to reach its stated goal of stamping a million American passports in 2017, the new policy will have to become reality relatively soon.