Vietnam has added 35 more countries, including emerging tourism markets in Europe, to the list of those whose nationals can visit with e-visas. New countries whose citizens are eligible for e-visas include Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Portugal, and Switzerland and other countries that Vietnamese tourism officials are potential tourism markets.
Applicants are required to complete a form available at two separate websites (one in Vietnamese and the other in English) belonging to the Ministry of Public Security. Eligible visitors can apply online for a 30-day, single-entry e-visa by paying a $25 fee and will find out within three working days if their application has been approved.
Travel to Vietnam will be very easy for visitors since those with e-visas can arrive through any of the country’s eight international airports, 13 international border gates and seven ports.
The move by the government is aimed at continuing to open Vietnam’s travel market to international visitors. The country is especially interested in attracting more tourists from Europe. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, European visitors spend an average of $1,316 per trip while overall foreign visitors spend $900, making Europeans an attractive market segment.
Under a two-year pilot program, Vietnam first allowed foreign tourists to apply online in February 2017, starting with 40 countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. In December 2017, six additional countries were added to the list: Australia, Canada, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the U.A.E.
After the pilot phase of the e-visa program ended recently, the government approved a two-year extension until 2021. The government also approved in late 2018 visa waivers for a three-year period for visitors from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom to give the tourism industry an additional impetus.
Last year record 15.4 million visitors came to the country, a whopping 20 percent increase from 2017. A report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranked Vietnam’s tourism growth the fourth highest in the world in 2018.
With the changes to the visa policies, the tourism industry hopes that foreign visitors will increase to the 17 ~20 million foreign visitors per year range by 2020. This level of international tourism would contribute revenues of $35 billion USD a year, contributing 10% to the country’s GDP compared to 7.5% of GDP in 2018.