The number of tourists going to Vietnam for a holiday or business trip remains low. One obvious reason for this is the Covid-19 pandemic, but strict visa rules also discourage tourists from travelling to Vietnam. This is why the Vietnamese government has announced plans to extend the visa validity.
Current visa rules are an obstacle
Almost every country in the world has seen a decrease in tourism numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, by now, most countries have been open for more than a year and tourism is growing. In Vietnam, however, this growth remains lacking. The main problem in Vietnam is the very strict visa rules that people have to comply with to enter the country.
Most tourists can use the online visa, which is valid for 30 days. Tourists who are not eligible for this e-visa can apply for a visa at the embassy, but they have to keep in mind a longer and more difficult application procedure. There is a visa-free period of 15 days for travellers from several European countries, but this period is quite short. This means that almost all tourists have to apply for a visa for a trip to Vietnam. In addition, they always have to leave the country after 30 days. All other visas that allow travellers to stay in the country longer are no longer available.
More visas available prior to Covid-19 pandemic
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 there were more Vietnam visas available. For example, travellers could buy a visa upon arrival. This was very practical for travellers who wanted to travel to Vietnam at the last moment, as the requirements for this visa could be arranged fairly shortly before departure. There was also a visa that was valid for 90 days and allowed travellers to enter the country multiple times. This visa was very much loved among tourists because it could be applied for fairly quickly and allowed a longer stay in the country. Neither visa has returned since the reopening of the borders.
Covid-19 measures: border closure and fewer visas
In 2020, Vietnam closed its borders because of Covid-19, and it was impossible to apply for any visa, including at the embassy. When many countries reopened their borders and international travel was possible again, Vietnam initially waited to allow in international travellers. Only in March 2022 were travellers allowed to enter the country. Having a visa is mandatory, but not all old visas were offered again.
At the moment, travellers can only apply for a visa that allows them to stay in Vietnam for up to 30 days. This applies both to the online e-visa and the visa that can be applied for at the embassy.
Other countries are ahead
For a trip to several neighbouring countries, many travellers can use a visa-free period or apply for a visa with a longer validity, depending on their nationality. It is evident from tourism data that relaxed visa rules actually help spur tourism. It is more attractive and easier for travellers to travel to countries that do not require a visa or where a visa allows them to stay for a longer period of time.
Big changes are necessary
In 2022, it was made clear that the set goals for tourism in Vietnam were not to be met. At the end of that year, the Vietnamese government proposed an extension of the validity of the visa. In March 2023, the government announced that it would discuss the visa policy in the National Assembly, the national legislative power in Vietnam. However, that had to wait for a while, as the National Assembly did not start until 22 May 2023. During this assembly, all new bills will be discussed, including the one regarding the extension of the validity period of the e-visa. If and when this bill will be passed is as yet unclear.
What is going to change exactly?
The government wants to extend not only the validity of the visa but also the period in which travellers with certain nationalities can stay in the country visa-free. In short, tourists should be able to stay longer in Vietnam. The proposition is to extend the validity from 30 days to 90 days (3 months). In addition, travellers would be able to choose a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa that allows them to enter the country once or multiple times, respectively. Additionally, the government wants to extend the visa-free period for travellers of some nationalities from 15 days to 45 days. Whether this will all be implemented and when the new rules will be in force is not yet clear.