However, he said on Tuoi tre that the number of foreign tourists has been increasing over the last 5-7 years, but inconsiderably. The additional income brought by the increase in the number of tourists proves to “make nothing” if compared with the sum of money lost because of the visa waver policy.
Commenting about Son’s remarks, Nguyen Huu Tho, Chair of the Vietnam Travel Association, said the conclusion is unreasonable.
He said that only those who stay in Vietnam for no more than 15 days can enjoy the visa waiver, which means that not all the people entering Vietnam from the 7 countries counted on by Son, could enjoy the policy.
Every foreign traveler spends $105.4 dollars on average, according to the General Statistics, Sapa tours
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The spending by foreign tourists has helped stimulate many industries in Vietnam which make tourism-relating products, create more jobs and reduce poverty.
La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Culture,, Voyage vietnam
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“It would get $20 more from, Ha Giang tours
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Travel firm proposes longer visa-free stay for Russians
Anh Duong Co. has proposed to increase the visa-free stay from 15 days to one month for Russian tourists to attract more tourists from this country, especially those wanting to have long vacations.
Travel firm, Russian tourists, Nha Trang Sea Festival
Most of stores in Ham Tien Ward in Phan Thiet City have signs written in the Russian language to serve the increasing number of Russian tourists.
Mikhail Simonov, general director of Anh Duong Co., a firm taking the lead in bringing Russian tourists to Vietnam, presented the proposal at a conference on developing tourism products in central coastal provinces held on Sunday within the framework of the Nha Trang Sea Festival 2013 in Khanh Hoa Province’s Nha Trang City.
According to Simonov, Russians consider Vietnam as an ideal destination for long vacations at year-round sunny and beautiful beaches. Anh Duong Co. currently takes Russian tourists from Siberia and Far East regions to Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Phan Rang, Danang and Hoi An on package tours lasting 10-15 days.
The length of tours fits Vietnam’s visa-free policy, but there are more tourists wanting to have longer stays. Therefore, if the visa-free stay is extended, tourists will stay here longer.
With the current low season, Anh Duong Co. charters two flights taking tourists from Russia to Nha Trang everyday together with monthly flights to Danang., SEO Vietnam
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The number of Russian tourists coming to Vietnam grew strongly last year with 174,000 tourists recorded, up over 71% from 2011. In this year’s first five months, despite a decline of arrivals from other markets, the number of Russian visitors still increased by 57.8% year-on-year to nearly 137,000 tourists.
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A representative of Saigontourist Travel Service Company said at the conference that one of the measures which could stimulate the central region’s tourism development was to support airlines in operating direct flights to the region.
According to Saigontourist, maintaining regular international flights to central Vietnam is not easy as some airlines cannot ensure business efficiency. Therefore, the Government should lend air carriers a helping hand by covering part of the losses for them in the first phase of opening direct international flights.
Tourist visa exemptions necessary
Tourism experts have proposed that the government continue offering unilateral tourist visa exemptions for travellers from major markets to attract more visitors and generate revenue.
Tourist visa exemptions, foreign visitors, Japan, the RoK, Russia
Foreign visitors to Hanoi's OId Quarter.
Vietnam has been implementing a pilot visa exemption programme for tourists from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland for eight years.
While the government is considering the programme’s effectiveness, some economists proposed a halt, stating that no visa fees have been collected from these tourists for the State budget.
A tourist visa to Vietnam currently costs US$45 and if the exemption programme continues, the State coffers will lose about US$50 million.
At a recent conference in Hanoi, the Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA) Vice President Vu The Binh argued that the loss of visa fees are just a drop in the ocean compared to the huge amount of revenue the tourism sector brings in every year.
Last year, Vietnam attracted approximately 1.5 million visitors from Japan, the RoK and Russia. If each visitor spent an average of US$1,500 during their stay, the tourism sector would earn US$2.1 billion and contribute US$210 million in VAT to the State budget.
While Vietnam may lose several tens of millions of US dollars from visa exemptions each year, it will gain billions of US dollars from the increasing numbers of foreign tourists visiting the country.
“We should not