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More Western Europeans visit Vietnam in May

May has seen a strong increase in visitors from five Western European countries whose citizens are exempt from Vietnam entry visa for a stay of no more than 15 days, showed statistics of the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Foreign tourists are seen strolling in downtown HCMC in this file photo. May has seen a strong increase in visitors from five Western European countries whose citizens are exempt from Vietnam entry visa for a stay of no more than 15 days

French tourist arrivals in May are up 9.5% month-on-month, and 32% for the UK, 36% for Italy, 26.7% for Spain and 19.2% for Germany.
Meanwhile, the respective year-on-year rises are 13%, 24.4%, 30.1%, 22.4% and 17.6%.
Vietnam has welcomed over 52,000 tourists from the five markets this month, with France taking the lead with 18,757 visitors, followed by the UK with 17,524.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, a total of 629,000 people from the five nations had visited Vietnam in the year to end-April, or 10 months after the Government adopted the visa-free policy for them.
They generated tourism revenue of almost US$828 million, up 15% against the same period a year earlier.
Experts said the visa exemption for these Western European countries has paid off. But the visa waiver is about to end on June 30.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has asked the Government to extend the visa-free stay to 30 days and the visa waiver scheme to five years instead of one year.
Speaking at a recent conference on visa exemptions co-held by the HCMC Tourism Association and the HCMC Department of Tourism, Saigontourist, the country’s leading tour operator, threw its weight behind the Government’s visa exemption policy.
Vietnam may miss an opportunity to woo more tourists from the Western European countries if the visa waiver extension is delayed.
Saigontourist explained that the travel season of Western Europeans usually starts in October and ends in September the following year.
Therefore, local travel firms should finish their tour programs for them by around this time of year.
According to the GSO, around 757,250 foreign tourists have visited Vietnam in May, up 30.2% year-on-year. The number of visitors who have come by air accounts for 643,894 of the total while the figures by sea and road make up 15,408 and over 97,940 respectively.
The country has served more than four million foreign visitors in January-May, a 20% rise against last year’s same period.
SGT

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