New Visa Policy Makes Viet Nam An Accessible Destination for Global Visitors

9:21:22 AM | 9/5/2023

Viet Nam's online e-visa application system is open to individuals of all nationalities, removing previous obstacles and making Viet Nam an accessible destination for global visitors, said EuroCham Chairman Gabor Fluit.

EuroCham Chairman Gabor Fluit - Photo: VGP

The EuroCham Chairman made the assessment after the Vietnamese Government applied new e-visa policy, which enables foreigners to apply online for multiple-entry visas valid for 90 days, as well as extension of visa-free stays from 15 to 45 days for citizens of 13 countries unilaterally granted visa exemptions.

The recent visa reform initiated by the Vietnamese government is a major step forward for the country's tourism and investment sectors. As the voice of the European business community in Viet Nam, EuroCham is enthusiastic about these changes. With the simplification of the e-visa process and the extension of visa-free and e-visa durations, travelers and businesspeople alike will greatly benefit.

Travelers will no longer have to apply for a visa at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, which can be a time-consuming and inconvenient experience. Viet Nam's online e-visa application system is open to individuals of all nationalities, removing previous obstacles and making Viet Nam an accessible destination for global visitors.

The extension of e-visa periods and visa-free stays also gives visitors more time to fully immerse themselves in Viet Nam, whether they are tourists or prospective business partners. International visitors who want to come to Viet Nam can now do so with greater ease and have more time to explore the country. With more time available, they can visit a greater number of tourist destinations, such as Viet Nam's mountainous northwest, the Mekong Delta, as well as destinations that generally receive little tourist traffic. In addition, European companies seeking to establish a presence in Viet Nam now have more time to explore its potential.

The visa reform is a clear sign that Viet Nam is committed to attracting more tourists and investors. By making it easier for people to visit and do business in Viet Nam, the government is sending a strong message that the country is open for business. These reforms are likely to have a positive impact on the Vietnamese economy, and they are sure to make Viet Nam an even more attractive destination for tourists and investors alike.

Two key types of tourists

Chairman Gabor Fluit said Viet Nam is on track to become one of the world's major tourism destinations in the coming years. The country has a rich history and culture, stunning natural beauty, and a growing economy. However, to reach its full potential, the EuroCham Tourism and Hospitality Sector Committee suggests Viet Nam should focus on attracting two key types of tourists: medical tourists and retirees.

Retirement tourism is a growing market, and Viet Nam is in an ideal position to capitalize on this trend. With its low cost of living, warm climate, and diverse attractions, Viet Nam is a friendly and welcoming destination for retirees looking to spend extended time abroad. Implementing retirement tourism by attracting international retirees can provide tremendous economic benefits and job creation. 

With stable pensions and ample savings, retirees can inject substantial foreign capital into Viet Nam through their spending on housing, healthcare, food, entertainment, and more. This steady inflow of funds will stimulate business activity and generate employment across sectors like real estate, construction, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and retail. 

Retirement tourism will also incentivize large-scale property development to meet housing demand, driving real estate investment, construction, and urban growth. The resulting economic activity and property transactions will further boost government revenue, while long-stay retirees help balance seasonal tourism fluctuations.

Additionally, Viet Nam can tap into the lucrative global medical tourism market by developing world-class medical facilities and services. Medical tourists spend heavily on healthcare, accommodations, transportation, food, and other activities while visiting Viet Nam for treatment. This provides tremendous economic benefits for the country. 

In particular, medical tourism will bring in foreign capital to stimulate business activity and create abundant jobs in healthcare, hospitality, transportation, retail, and beyond. It also diversifies Viet Nam's revenue streams beyond traditional sources. 

Moreover, investments in healthcare infrastructure and technologies will elevate Vietnamese healthcare overall, bringing prestige and global recognition. Partnerships arising from medical tourism will accelerate innovations in Vietnamese healthcare through knowledge exchange with leading global institutions.

Tourism plays vital role in strengthening bonds between Viet nam and Europe

EuroCham sees tourism as a vital bridge strengthening the economic and cultural bonds between Viet Nam and Europe, said Chairman Gabor Fluit, adding that as part of its mission, EuroCham has championed collaborative initiatives to unlock the sector's immense potential.

Through our Tourism and Hospitality Sector Committee, EuroCham takes part in policy advocacy as well as cooperative initiatives with authorities and industry leaders to unlock tourism's sustainable growth potential. Our discussions aim to implement policies making it easier for Europeans to visit Viet Nam and for Viet Nam to develop tourism without compromising cultural and natural treasures. Our annual Whitebook, for example, contains detailed recommendations for improving tourism infrastructure, developing human capital, promoting sustainability, and attracting more European tourists in general. 

Realizing the importance of promotional outreach, we have also collaborated with Vietnamese tourism bodies on campaigns that showcase the country's immense natural beauty, historical sites, and hospitality to visitors. For example, in Spring 2022, EuroCham signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism in order to position the city as a top-choice destination for European travelers. Through the MOU, we exchange resources like policy information, best practices, and research to boost European tourism to Viet Nam.

Realizing much of Viet Nam's tourism potential lies outside major cities, our goal is to work more closely with local authorities in the provinces. In late August, EuroCham's Tourism and Hospitality Sector Committee visited Binh Thuan to promote sustainable tourism and discuss the topic with key decision makers. 

During the visit, the sector committee discussed best practices and challenges related to tourism with a number of provincial departments, emphasizing our commitment to local engagement. We hope to establish many more of these partnerships in the future to foster a two-way exchange of ideas, insights, and expertise.

Call for expanding visa-free travel to EU members

Chairman Gabor Fluit said expanding on recent improvements to visa regulations, Viet Nam has a real chance to take a significant leap forward—by extending visa-free travel to all 27 European Union member states. EuroCham is certain that this would significantly boost the country's tourism and investment sectors, as well as the overall economy.

The easier it is for tourists and investors to access Viet Nam without hurdles, the more likely they'll choose to come. Conversely, if the process is complicated and barriers are high, they're more likely to look at other destinations or business opportunities within the region.

Currently, only seven EU member states enjoy visa-free entry to Viet Nam. Broadening this access to include the entire EU bloc would be a game-changer. European travelers would find it much easier to explore Viet Nam's natural beauty and rich culture. This change would also give Viet Nam an edge over competing destinations like Singapore and Thailand in terms of visa flexibility.

Let's also consider how European tourists spend. They often stay longer and are likely to spend more per trip. By offering them easier entry, we can encourage them to extend their stays, which means more spending in Viet Nam. This not only enriches their travel experience but also significantly strengthens the tourism sector's contribution to the economy.

Moreover, simplifying visa-free entry for EU business people would stimulate investment. European companies already have a strong presence in Viet Nam, but with a smoother entry process, we'd be supporting both current and potential European investors in conducting market research, forming local partnerships, exploring new opportunities, inviting international experts to share their expertise, and much more.

Now is the prime time for this bold move, especially post-pandemic. Extending visa exemptions to all EU members would signal that Viet Nam is open for business, poised to emerge stronger by fostering deeper economic ties with Europe.

This initiative has received strong support from Team Europe, including 18 EU ambassadors to Viet Nam and all EuroCham-affiliated European business associations within the country. We've also received positive feedback from Vietnamese government ministries, increasing our optimism for forthcoming changes.

Source: VGP