Tourists from visa-exempt countries not yet recover to pre-pandemic levels

The number of tourists from 13 countries that are unilaterally exempt from visas by Vietnam have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels, data showed.

Starting from August 15, citizens from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Belarus are allowed to stay for 45 days from the time of entry, triple the period given earlier.

In the first seven months of this year, the number of South Korean visitors to Vietnam reached 1.88 million, recovering only around 79% of pre-pandemic levels, according to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Japanese tourist arrivals only recovered over 50% while Western European visitors were around 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Before the pandemic, Russia used to be Vietnam tourism’s sixth largest source of tourists.

However, Vietnam has so far received 69,800 Russian tourists, around 20% of pre-pandemic levels, due to the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war that resulted in flight suspension.

The U.K., France and Germany were Vietnam’s biggest sources of European tourists so far this year.

The EU market has a population of over 500 million and European travelers tend to stay much longer, often for two weeks or more.

Since 2005, Vietnam started offering visa exemption for visitors from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

10 years later, the Vietnamese government continued waiving visas for citizens of five Western European countries including the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy with a maximum stay of 15 days and has since then extended the policy.

However, many European tourists previously complained they always have a long vacation in Vietnam, especially during winter escape holiday but a 15-day stay was too short for them to explore the country.

Tourism insiders said the new visa extension policy would give a boost to the tourism industry and helps Vietnam to attract a large number of European tourists with high spending.

However, they said visa extension was not “a magic wand” to lure international tourists immediately and the tourism industry should improve tourism products and marketing policies


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