Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA) deputy head Vu The Binh wants visa exemptions for visitors from more countries to help reverse the declining trend in growth of arrivals.
The VTA says tourism growth has declined from 34.8 in 2010 to 19.1 percent growth in 2011, 13.9 percent in 2012, 10.6 percent in 2013 and 4,0 percent in 2014.
“If the number of tourists in the first six months goes down, then it’s dangerous because the tourism season is at its highest in that period,” Binh told a workshop held by the VTA in Hanoi on May 25.
“Even though Thailand has had some political crisis, its growth rate is still good. If we don’t implement necessary measures now, Vietnam will fall behind and may not be able to recover,” he said.
Visa exemptions and fewer restrictions, as well as better management of pricing, were ways of encouraging more visitors to Vietnam.
Malaysia exempts visas for tourists from 155 countries and Singapore allows visa-free travel for 158 countries. They receive, respectively, 28m and 15m tourist arrivals a year.
Vietnam allows visa-free entry for tourists from seven countries – Japan, South Korea, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Russia – and 30-day exemptions for citizens from nine out of the 10 ASEAN member states, with a total number of tourist arrivals at some 8m a year.
Since visa exemptions were granted in 2004 for tourists from Japan, South Korea and Russia, the number of arrivals from these three markets has grown by 354 percent.
Binh proposed visa exemption for tourists from France, Germany, Australia and the UK, and to trial removing visa fees for other countries for the period July to December.