Businesses in Vietnamʼs tourism sector want the government to reintroduce visa-free travel for eligible countries. Currently, travellers from all countries are required to apply for a Vietnam visa to travel to the country.
Visa-free travel to Vietnam before Covid-19
Before the global Covid-19 outbreak, it was possible for travellers from a few European countries to travel to Vietnam without a visa. This was the case for travellers from Germany, France and the United Kingdom, among others. However, the condition was that they could stay in Vietnam for up to 15 days per visit. A visa was required for longer stays. There also had to be a minimum of one month between each visit to Vietnam if this scheme was used. Travellers from other Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand, could stay in Vietnam without a visa for up to 30 days. Travellers from Chile could even stay up to 90 days in Vietnam without a visa.
When Vietnam closed its borders to foreign travellers in March 2020, the visa-free travel system was also discontinued. Travellers who are currently allowed to travel to Vietnam by exception must apply for a visa, even if they were allowed to travel to Vietnam visa-free in the past.
Vietnam reopening has already started
Vietnam has already started to reopen its borders and welcome back fully vaccinated foreign tourists. From 1 January 2022, Vietnam will again allow commercial flights from a number of cities, such as Los Angeles and Tokyo. As of 16 January, routes from European cities, such as Frankfurt and Paris, will also be allowed again. With these measures, the Vietnamese government hopes to give the struggling tourism sector a boost.
However, companies in the sector say that visa-free travel was an important reason for Vietnamʼs popularity as a tourism destination. They are urging the government to reintroduce visa-free travel as soon as possible. This is the only way to bring the tourism figures back to pre-Covid-19 levels. Besides visa-free travel, tourism companies also want Ho Chi Minh City and the popular coastal city of Quy Nhon to reopen to foreign tourists. The serious Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam last summer seems to be over. On 1 October 2021, the strict lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City came to an end.
E-visa alternative to visa-free travel
Before the coronavirus, the visa-free travel system was only available to travellers of specific nationalities. For example, Dutch travellers have to apply for a visa to travel to Vietnam, regardless of the length of stay. Travellers from countries like Germany or Italy who want to stay in Vietnam longer than 15 days also have to apply for a visa.
The e-visa Vietnam, on the other hand, is available to many more nationalities. Among others, travellers with the nationality of a country in the European Union can apply for an e-visa. The e-visa for Vietnam can easily be applied for online. It is not a paper visa and therefore does not require a visit to the embassy or consulate. As a result, the e-visa is also granted quickly, usually within a week. An e-visu is also cheaper than the visa on arrival..
Vietnam has also temporarily halted the e-visa system since March 2020. It is expected that with the opening of the borders, e-visas can again be applied for online as usual.