Some tourists who enter Vietnam and then visit neighboring countries also have to apply for a visa if they want to return to Vietnam within 30 days from their exit, he said.
The government wants to simplify procedures to welcome tourists, but the waiver’s duration is “too short,” thus making them feel that “Vietnam does not really open its door to international visitors,” Kien said.
Many other travel companies said tourists from distant markets such as Europe often make travel plans half or one year in advance, meaning that the visa waiver rule will not really show its effects until next year.
They also said that nobody can be sure about the future of the one-year policy, which means they can not really plan far ahead.
More than 5 million foreigners visited Vietnam in the January-August period, down 7.5% year-on-year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
Of all the five European countries newly added to Vietnam’s visa waiver list, Spain was the biggest success, with a 8.5% increase in the number of visitors.
Arrivals from Germany and Italy slightly increased by 1% and 4.4%, respectively, while those from France and the UK declined 4.6% and 2.8%, respectively.
Tour operators also complained that tourism authorities have yet to fulfill their promise about big promotion campaigns and national sales programs in order to help increase the visa waiver policy’s effects.
Without making tourists in the target markets aware of the visa waiver rule, Vietnam will not be able to attract more tourists as it hopes, an unnamed representative of a travel company in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Kien of Thien Minh Group also stressed that practical marketing programs are especially necessary, considering the policy’s limited time.
He advised the authorities to bring promotion campaigns to Vietnam’s neighboring countries such as Singapore and Thailand, where many Europeans are living.