As the Vietnamese government moves ahead with the relaxation of tourist visas, foreigners are hoping for a resumption of the three-month visa policy, which would give them more time to explore the country, according to local media.
Rahn Wood from Australia, who is tired of having to make visa runs every month, was hopeful after Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered officials earlier this week to waive visas for more countries and extend the length of stay for foreign tourists to speed up the recovery of tourism.
Rahn said, “It was problematic to leave the country every 30 days. We flew from Da Nang to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur to spend 3-4 days there and return with new e-visas. Those flights and hotel stays cost us around $1,000 every 30 days.”
Due to strict visa policies, Rahn had to move to Thailand for his recent winter vacation, where he could easily get a visa for longer stays, or to Malaysia, where there is visa-free entry for 90 days.
“We and many of our friends would love to come back to Vietnam next fall and winter, but only if there are finally visas for at least three months like before the pandemic,” he added. “We’ve waited a very long time for Vietnam’s 3-month visa policy, but nothing has changed until now.”
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Vietnam now offers a one-month, single-entry e-visa to visitors from 80 countries. However, the multi-entry, three-month visa that was available before Covid has not been brought back yet.
In response to the prime minister’s order, the Ministry of Public Security proposed on Friday to prolong the duration of e-visas granted to foreigners entering Vietnam from the current 30 days to a maximum of three months to boost tourism.
Foreign tourist in Vietnam. Photo: @clumsy_charly & @backofthebiketours
Warren Cammack from the U.K said a 30-day visa is not enough for him to explore rural parts of northern Vietnam, where he wants to gain a deeper understanding of local cultures.
Warren visited Vietnam last month and spent 28 days riding a motorbike from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Due to the restrictive visa, he could not travel further north to areas where he wanted to learn more about ethnic minority groups with their distinctive culture.
He said he hoped the three-month visa policy would soon be restarted to give him more time to explore remote parts of the country on a motorbike.
American Bill Kennedy and his family are preparing to visit Vietnam next month, and he is waiting for “major changes” in the visa policy.
Bill said he hoped the maximum stay duration for foreign tourists would be extended up to three months, like it was before the pandemic, as some tourist destinations in Vietnam “are really beautiful.”
Since Vietnam reopened its borders in March last year, the number of foreign tourists has remained low, while Southeast Asian neighbors with open visa policies have already recorded significant increases in international tourism.
Despite being one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism post-Covid, Vietnam only received 3.6 million foreign tourists last year, which is around 20% of pre-pandemic levels.
With disappointing numbers, tourism industry insiders have been calling on the government to lift visa barriers to help the tourism industry take off again, the local media reported.
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