Vietnam’s extension of visa exemption for several European countries is a welcome move, but trade players interviewed said that conditions limiting single-entry stays to 15 days need to be revisited.
The Vietnamese authorities recently announced that they will extend the current visa waiver scheme for France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK for another year from June 30.
Tourists in national park in Quang Binh
The scheme has been in place since mid-2015 and resulted in double-digit growth in arrivals from Western European countries in the first four months of 2017.
Jose Gregorio Manzo, general manager of Asian Trails Vietnam, said his company has seen an increase of 30-40 per cent from these markets since the introduction. In 2017, he saw largest growth from Spain and the company is on track to surpass the 40 per cent increase seen in 2016.
However, he said the 15-day limit is insufficient as longhaul customers normally make enquiries about two- to three-week holidays in Vietnam.
Hoang Minh Ngoc, Saigon office manager at Indochina Charm Travel, agreed: “In my experience, Europeans prefer more time (in the destination) after having spent about 24 hours to get there.”
Pham Ha, founder and CEO at Luxury Travel Vietnam, added that the single-entry condition is proving a damper for the suggested three-week, multi-entry itineraries.
“European travellers usually holiday for two to three weeks in South-east Asia,” he said. “They combine Vietnam and countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar and often want to return to Vietnam. Therefore, they still have trouble getting visas while travelling.”
Florencia Allo Morena, general manager at Khiri Vietnam, said a duration of 15 days (17 including flights) is typically enough for clients. However, if this becomes an issue, a multi-country programme would be opted.