Foreign tourists visit an orchard in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Doan Loan
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has instructed relevant agencies to report about the impact of the free visas visitors from seven countries have been enjoying before the government decides whether it will continue with the policy.
He instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to review the policy's political, economic and security impacts and submit its findings to the government, VnExpress reported.
Between 2004 and 2009 Vietnam unilaterally waived visas for single-entry visits of up to 15 days for Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, South Korean, and Swedish visitors.
At a recent meeting of the State Steering Committee on Tourism, many officials urged Vietnam to not only continue the exemption, but extend the length of stay to 30 days.
Earlier in April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) for failing to take advantage of the policy to promote tourism, saying the underused policy had forced it to accept losses of US$50 million annually.
After that, VNAT proposed that the government continue the visa exemption because otherwise, Vietnam would become less competitive, as several other countries in the region waive visa fees to promote tourism.
Vu The Binh, VNAT deputy chairman, said nothing should be done to dissuade tourists from South Korea, Russia and Japan from coming to Vietnam. Last year, revenue from those tourists was $2 billion, of which the government collected $200 million in VAT.
Vietnam is not a very attractive tourism destination in the region and a visa requirement would worsen the situation, he said.
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