Amid reports that the Vietnamese government will introduce an e-visa system for major tourism markets next year, tour operators in the country have expressed hope that the plan becomes a reality.
“Currently, a Vietnamese visa may be obtained upon arrival at the country’s international airports or via a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, but that involves long queues,” said Tran Gia Bach, general manager of Buffalo Tours.
He is hopeful that e-visas would simplify this process. “We understand that the goal is to make entry into Vietnam easier and less costly in order to increase arrivals, so we hope that fees for the future e-visa facility will be reasonable,” he added.
Anton Jurgens, general manager at ExoTravel Vietnam, agrees that an e-visa system would be hugely beneficial for businesses, but thus far he has heard no official word on when such a process may come online.
“There is a lot of internal fighting over who makes money on visas. Embassies abroad currently make a lot and immigration makes a lot as well,” he explained.
“So we’ve been advising the government to make visas cheaper and make up the difference in tax revenue once visitors are in the country.”
Jurgens shared that when visa waiver was offered to tourists from Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain, business boomed, but added that consistency and standardisation needs to take place as well.
“We get calls from agents in places like Australia and Ireland asking why they can’t get the exemptions as well,” he said. “Other ASEAN countries with cohesive visa policies have seen their visitor numbers go up across the board, and that’s what we want here in Vietnam.”