Foreigners inquire about Vietnam's new tax refund policy at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport
Vietnam started issuing value added tax refunds to foreign visitors on July 1 but so far, no foreigners have taken advantage of the service being offered at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International Airports.
Customs staff members said the message has not been well delivered and tourism agencies need to spread the word more effectively.
A customs employee in charge of the refund booth at Tan Son Nhat Airport told Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon that a few foreigners have stopped by to inquire about the service, but none have used it.
Tran The Dung, deputy director of The He Tre Tourism Company in Ho Chi Minh City, said many foreign visitors in Vietnam want tax refunds and described the policy as a "good" one.
"But the most important thing is to make the process quick and simple. Several countries have made their visitors wait too long [at airports] for the refunds, turning the service into a burden," Dung said.
So far, only eight companies have registered for the scheme, including one in Hanoi. Most of them sell garment products. Together they have 46 retail outlets where foreigners can receive the tax break, including stores at the Rex Hotel, the Crescent Mall and the Tax Shopping Mall in HCMC.
The Finance Ministry plan is an experiment scheduled to run through June of 2014, giving tax refunds to foreigners and overseas Vietnamese with foreign passports, who submit valid receipts worth at least VND2 million for goods purchased within the previous 30 days.
They will receive 85 percent of the value added tax with the remainder going toward service fees. The refund will be in Vietnamese dong and can be converted to alternate currencies immediately upon demand.
Vietcombank, Maritime Bank, Vietinbank, BIDV have been selected to handle the refunds.