Last year was a successful year for Vietnam’s tourism industry with nearly 13 million foreign people visiting Vietnam, 29.1 per cent higher than the year 2016.
Especially, the number of British tourists coming to Vietnam increased by 11.6 per cent to reach 283,537 people. This is also one of the two European nations having the largest number of visitors to Vietnam.
According to Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the number of British tourists coming to Vietnam in the first three months of this year was 85,808 people, 14.4 per cent higher than the same period of last year.
According to deputy head of mission at the British embassy in Vietnam Steph Lysaght, after three years coming into effect, the visa exemption policy for five European nations including Britain has brought about the positive result, contributing significantly to the development of Vietnam’s tourism industry in particular and the country’s economy at large.
“Thanks to the Government’s policies, Vietnam has become a welcoming place. This has been proved by the increasing number of visitors and investors coming to Vietnam in the passing years,” said Steph Lysaght.
However, there is no information about the renewal of visa exemption policy for five European nations well in advance of its expiration this June.
Steph Lysaght said that the British embassy mentioned the issue in the strategic dialogue between the two governments in early January 2018.
“It is clear that the policy has contributed significantly to the development of Vietnam, especially the tourism industry. Therefore, we hope that the government of Vietnam would consider renewing the visa exemption for five European nations, including Britain,” said Steph Lysaght.
“Controlling the number and information about those entering Vietnam is very important to its security. However, the government should balance that with the open policies in order to welcome international tourists to the country as they would bring about huge profit for Vietnam,” said the British embassy’s leader.
According to Steph Lysaght, it is estimated that each British tourist spent about $1,000 when traveling to Vietnam. They buy the tickets of Vietnam Airlines, stay in hotels, use taxies and buy food in restaurants. Besides, many of them usually buy souvenirs to bring home.
In the passing time, there is an opinion saying that the government has lost a large amount of money from visa application fee due to visa exemption policy. However, the British embassy’s leader said that compared to the profit that the whole economy could gain, that amount of fee is very small.
Also, the visa exemptions in many countries range from 30 to 90 days while the figure for Vietnam is mostly 15 days. Some experts say that this amount of time is too short, especially when European visitors tend to stay in Vietnam for more than 15 days.
Discussing this issue, Steph Lysaght said that it would be better for tourists if the government could expand the length of exempted stay. However, the policy applied for the passing years is still producing the positive outcome. Therefore, he hopes that at least the current policy would be renewed after its expiration.
The leader of British embassy said that the biggest obstacle for British tourists is the huge distance between two countries. However, he affirms that they still love traveling to Vietnam not only because of good weather and beautiful sceneries but also Vietnam’s rich culture.
Steph Lysaght believes that if the visa exemption is not renewed, the number of British visitors to Vietnam would not decrease as there are many factors mesmerizing them coming to Vietnam alongside visa policies. However, the growth would not be as strong as the past three years.
Therefore, he said that Vietnamese government should consider carefully as the visa exemption policy would partly contribute to tourists' decision in holiday's tourist destination.
Also, Steph Lysaght believes that if there are stricter visa regulations, the growth of Vietnam’s tourism would experience a slowdown.