While the tourism industry in Vietnam has been waiting for some good news over more countries being integrated into the country’s visa waiver program, Vietnam President Tran Dai Quango announced during an official visit to the Czech Republic that Czech citizens would from now visit the country visa-free if their stay does not exceed 15 days. Both Vietnam and the Czech Republic also agreed on a direct air route linking Prague to Ho Chi Minh City in a bid to boost tourism. The Czech Republic will also open a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
No specific dates for the air service and the consulate were provided. The tourism trade however had expected to see more progress on the visa waiver issue as well as on the validity of the visa. Tourist players regularly ask the government to extend the visa waiver to a period covering 30 days while also extending the visa waiver program to new countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Switzerland or Poland.
The 15-day visa exemption for French, British, German, Italian and Spanish citizens has been extended for another year, until June 30, 2018. The information was announced on Monday.
Vietnam received more than 10 million foreign arrivals last year, up 26 percent from the previous year. Arrivals continued to increase nearly 30 percent during the first five months this year, according to official data. The country already targets 20 million foreign visitors by 2020.
The Czech Republic has become the 23rd country to be granted visa waivers by Vietnam.
The Vietnam Tourism Association explained that the facilitiy of e-visas introduced last February will not be able to replace visa exemptions. The government is also looking at simplifying visa procedures which is a major concern for travellers coming to the country.