Tour operators waiting for e-visa guidelines

VietNamNet Bridge – Travel firms are waiting for e-visa issuance guidelines for international tourists to Vietnam but immigration authorities remain tight-lipped.

Last week the National Assembly passed a resolution on a pilot scheme to issue e-visas for foreign visitors, with effect from February 1.

Tourism services providers said the issuance of electronic visas for international visitors is just two months away, so the immigration agency should soon let them know the website where international tourists could apply for e-visa. The sooner the website is launched, the better it would be to introduce this liberal policy to foreign business partners and travelers.

Ung Phuong Dung, director of ICS Travel Group, said foreign tourism firms anxiously wanted to know more details about the e-visa policy.

If the e-visa issuance system goes well, the country would attract more travelers from abroad, especially those purchasing tours at the last minute.

Travel companies are currently required to take two parallel steps: sending the immigration agency both digital and printed visa applications on behalf of their customers. When the applications are approved, the companies will have to send people to the immigration office to collect visas on behalf of their clients. Therefore, they expect the new e-visa policy would help then save much time and energy.

Pham Ha, chief executive officer of Luxury Travel Co Ltd, said the ASEAN Tourism Forum next January would be a great opportunity to make the policy known to potential customers. Authorities should create a user-friendly website where foreign tourists can pay the visa application fee.

Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travelink, noted that granting e-visa within three days after the date of visa application being submitted and visa fee being paid would provide an impetus to lure more European tourists. However, tourists from certain countries like China are not interested in the new policy as they can get visa upon arrival.

More than nine million international tourists have come to Vietnam in January-November, a 25.4% year-on-year increase, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

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