One decree, double purposes
14:28 | 05/02/2017

VGP – With the new Decree on pilot grant of e-visas to foreigners from 40 countries around the globe, the Government expects to boost both administrative reform and tourism development.

Rich in world heritages and beautiful landscapes, Viet Nam needs to continue easing visa procedures to give a strong boost to tourism development

Key steps

Back to 2014, for the first time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a website http://visa.mofa.gov.vn  which allowed foreigners to access and create e-documents for visa application instead of going to overseas Vietnamese diplomatic agencies.

With this new system, it only takes two days for foreigners to get visa after submission of correct e-documents.

Foreigners and Vietnamese bearing foreign passports can also look for visa-related information and track the handling process of their e-documents on the website.

This year, the Government promulgated Decree No. 07/2017/ND-CP defining procedures on pilot grant of e-visas for foreigners entering Viet Nam.

Under the new Decree, Viet Nam started pilot grant of e-visas for foreigners from 40 countries through eight international airport terminals and 13 international land border gates.

Noticeably, it takes three days to process an application for an e-visa valid for 30 days.

Along with domestic administrative reform, Viet Nam has signed visa exemption agreements with 77 countries and decided to offer unilateral visa exemption for eight countries, namely Belarus, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia in a bid to give a boost to tourism inflows to the nation reputed for world heritages and beautiful landscapes and beaches.

Earlier in 2011, the Government released a strategy for tourism development until 2020, vision to 2030 with an aim to help the sector able to compete with other countries in the region and the world.

On the right track

Official statistics show foreign arrivals to Viet Nam keep on rising over the past years, from nearly eight million in 2014 to over 10 million in 2016. Especially, the number of tourists in 2015 from Japan, the Republic of Korea and Russia rose by 2.43, 3.6, and 7.45 times from the previous year.

Visa exemption expansion combined with administrative reform in tourism sector would help increase tourism revenues by millions of US dollar, according to estimates released at the Viet Nam Business Forum held on September 6, 2015.

Viet Nam ranked 16th out of 184 countries having long-term tourism potential in 2014, said Vice Chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Advisory Board.

He went to say that Viet Nam is likely to raise the tourism growth to 18% from 8% provided that it makes more efforts to further facilitate visa granting.

Simplification of visa policy has become a global trend as the number of tourists applied for visa dropped from 70% in 2008 to 64% in 2010 and 60% in 2013, said the UN World Tourism Organization.

Many regional countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have eased visa procedures for citizens from European and Northeast Asian countries, leading to overwhelming revenues. Citizens from a dozen of countries, including Germany, the US, the UK are exempted from visa when travelling to 174 countries.

It seems clear that Viet Nam needs to continue responding to the trend as part of the effort to turn tourism into a key economic sector.

And of course reciprocal visa exemption is certainly welcomed by Vietnamese citizens./.

By Hai Minh

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