Vietnam considers visa exemption for 24 countries to open tourism doors wider
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Foreign tourists with a hotel guide in Hoi An, March 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Tan
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has asked the government to consider resuming unilateral visa exemptions for 24 countries that had enjoyed the policy prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The proposal has been made even as the ministry seeks approval for fully reopening borders to foreign tourists from March 31 onwards in a bid to revive the nation's beleaguered tourism industry, according to the ministry's portal.
Before the pandemic, the country had offered visa waivers to visitors from 24 countries and territories including ASEAN co-members. After the pandemic broke out in 2020, Vietnam suspended visa-free entry for many countries.
Earlier, visitors from Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. had been allowed to stay in Vietnam for no longer than 15 days without a visa.
While tourists from nine ASEAN countries could enjoy a visa-free stay of up to 30 days, (21 days for the Philippines and 14 days for Brunei and Myanmar), Kyrgyzstan citizens had a visa exemption for no more than 30 days and that of Chile had one for no more than 90 days.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had assigned the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tuesday to work with relevant agencies to announce a roadmap for full tourism resumption soon.
Earlier this month, the PM asked authorities to prepare for reopening the borders to foreign tourists no later than the end of April and ideally at the end of March.
With borders closed, the number of foreign arrivals had plunged by 96 percent last year.
The government started allowing foreign tourists in under a vaccine passport program last November. So far, nearly 9,000 foreign arrivals have been welcomed under the program with several pre-set conditions and constraints, half of them Vietnamese overseas coming to see their relatives.
Under the program, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Quang Nam, Quang Ninh, and Binh Dinh provinces, along with Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang City are the only localities foreign tourists can visit.