Vietnam finally decided to extend its visa waiver program benefiting citizens of five European countries, which ended on June 30, 2016. The policy has proved to be successful after one year in effect.
German, French, British, Italian, and Spanish visitors will continue to be able to enjoy a visa-free travel policy that allows again for a 15-day stay for each entry for a year ending July 30, 2017, according to a directive signed Thursday by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The previous visa waiver, valid from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, did increase arrivals from the five concerned countries increase arrivals from the five mentioned countries by 15 percent to 681,000 after 11 months in effect, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
In the first five months of this year, tourist arrivals from the five countries topped 342,000, a 20.10 percent from the same period last year.
The Vietnamese government has agreed an extension for the program. However it rejected a proposal to increase the validity of stay for visa-exempted travellers.
In May, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the VNAT urged the government to waive visas for the same five countries for the next five years from the new policy’s effective date, with an allowed 30-day stay for each entry.
Vietnam’s international arrivals topped 4.7 million in the first half of this year, up 21.3 percent year on year.
In the six-month period, Italy posted the biggest increase in tourist numbers, 30 percent, followed by the UK and Spain, 24.6 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively. Vietnam saw a 17.1 percent and 13.8 percent increase of arrivals from Germany and France.