Vietnam visa waiver raises hopes for corporate bookings

Tourism officials are hoping that several strategic policies, updates and partnerships will build Vietnam’s appeal as a business events destination.

Speaking at ITE HCMC in Saigon, Mary Mckeon of the EU-backed Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism (ESRT) programme, highlighted the launch of a new visa waiver scheme for nationals from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belarus and the UK.

The scheme was implemented in June this year, and will allow citizens from these countries to stay in Vietnam for up to 15 days. McKeon also highlighted the Vietnam government’s commitment to improving connectivity and infrastructure for international visitors.  

“A new terminal opened at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi earlier this year… will manage international demand for modern and equipped facilities,” she said. “Vietnam’s longest expressway also opened last year, linking Hanoi with the northern territory of Laocai, cutting travel time from seven to three-and-a-half hours. This greatly opens up options for travellers flying into Hanoi, who want to see more of the country.”

Do Khoi Nguyen, deputy general manager of sales and marketing for Vietnam Airlines, announced the arrival of a new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus 350-900 XWB, serving routes from Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow and Frankfurt. “The changes to the visa policy are a great opportunity for Vietnam Airlines. With the new aircraft, we will be the first member of the SkyTeam alliance to fly the Dreamliner nonstop from Southeast Asia to Europe,” Nguyen said.

Vietnam’s aviation market is currently ranked in the top 10 fastest-growing in the world by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), contributing US$6 billion to the country’s GDP. Infrastructure remains a challenge, however, as Vietnam is ranked 82nd in the Infrastructure Index of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Expansion programmes at Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi airports are underway, with the Long Thanh International Airport expected to be ready in the southern province of Dong Nai by 2020.

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