Vietnam Expands Global Visa Negotiations to Boost International Tourism

Vietnam is embarking on an ambitious initiative to bolster its position as a prime destination for international travelers. The country’s Foreign Ministry is currently in discussions with 15 countries to establish mutual visa exemptions and is seeking to negotiate visa waiver agreements for diplomatic passports with 80 additional nations. This move is part of a broader strategy to enhance accessibility and appeal to a global audience, aiming to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which has faced stiff competition from regional neighbors.

At a recent National Assembly session, it was revealed that Vietnam, renowned for its cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes, is striving to simplify its visa policies to attract more tourists. Despite its popularity, the country has noticed a disparity in visa exemptions, with Vietnamese nationals facing difficulties obtaining visas to some countries. In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Bui Thanh Son, is working diligently to streamline immigration procedures and extend the stay durations for foreigners, hoping to make Vietnam more attractive to international visitors.

Vietnam has already made significant strides in this direction. The nation unilaterally grants visa exemptions to citizens from 13 developed and high-spending countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus. Visitors from these countries enjoy the privilege to enjoy a 45-day stay from the date of entry, irrespective of their passport type or the purpose of their visit. Additionally, the introduction of e-visas for all nationalities, along with provisions for 90-day stays and unlimited entries, underscores Vietnam’s commitment to opening its doors wider to the world. This policy reflects Vietnam’s strategic approach to attracting tourists from nations known for their robust spending habits.

Despite these efforts, Vietnam faces challenges in keeping pace with neighboring countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, which offer visa exemptions to citizens from over 150 countries. The competitive landscape has prompted calls for further relaxation of visa policies, particularly towards developed countries with low crime rates, to attract high-income tourists.

Vietnam welcomed 12.6 million foreign tourists last year, a significant increase from 2022 but still below the pre-pandemic record of 18 million in 2019. With an eye on reaching or surpassing this milestone, the Vietnamese government has set a target of 17-18 million international visitors for this year. Visa relaxations are seen as crucial to achieving this goal, especially as the country vies for a larger share of tourists from populous nations like China and India.

The ongoing negotiations and policy adjustments highlight Vietnam’s commitment to opening up to the world and enhancing its tourism industry’s competitiveness. The recent revisions to the Law on Exit and Entry of Vietnamese Citizens and the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam, passed in June 2023, mark a significant step towards this objective. These laws aim to significantly relax visa requirements and extend tourist stays, signaling Vietnam’s readiness to welcome more international visitors.

As the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry continues its negotiations, the potential for increased tourism and cultural exchange looks promising. The country’s rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes combined with more accessible visa policies, position Vietnam as an attractive destination for travelers from around the globe.


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