Local travel companies in Hanoi are working to explore the opportunities in the year-end period in the expectation that the e-visa stay extension will boost tourist arrivals to the city.
|A foreign traveler learns to make toy figurines out of rice clay in the old village of Duong Lam, Hanoi. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times|
National lawmakers on June 24 agreed to lengthen the e-visa stay for foreigners in Vietnam from 30 to 90 days. In addition, e-visa holders will be allowed multiple entries.
The move is expected to boost tourist flows to Vietnam and Hanoi in the post-pandemic period and make Vietnamese tourism more competitive in the region.
In anticipation of the e-visa validity extension to take effect on August 15, local travel businesses are working hard to develop new products and services.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, General Director of Hanoi-based Flamingo Redtours, said his company plans to develop a cross-border tour linking Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City and destinations in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Hong Nhat, General Director of Asia Premier Cruise (APC), revealed that the company's cruise ship Ambassador in Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Province, now hosts new art performances every day from 5 pm to 10 pm.
The shows include singers, dancers, disc jockeys and musicians who perform from sunset. Passengers on the cruise also enjoy Vietnamese cuisine. "We are preparing for the end of the year, which is usually the busiest season for Vietnamese tourism," said Nhat.
Tran Thi Bao Thu, Director of marketing and communication at Vietluxtour, said her company will introduce international visitors to cross-country tours. Travelers will experience local culture and cuisine, she said, expecting such activities to draw an influx of big spenders from the US, Europe and Australia.
Not only are travel companies rushing to create their own advantages, but district authorities in Hanoi have also taken measures to organize travel programs.
Dang Huong Giang, Director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, said her agency will work with relevant units to develop a food tour map for tourists.
The department will also facilitate further growth of meeting-incentive-conference-exhibition (MICE) travel, golf tourism, and experiential travel in both urban and suburban districts.
"In the year-end period, Hanoi will host several major events, including a travel photography contest, an Ao Dai festival, and a travel promotion program," Giang added.
|Foreign visitors at Ngoc Son Temple in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times|
She said these events will give businesses a chance to introduce their products and services to international guests.
Singapore's online booking platform Agoda announced on July 24 that the number of inquiries from tourists planning to stay longer in Vietnam has increased by 33% in two weeks.
French travelers topped the list with a 72% increase in inquiries during the period, followed by those from the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and the US.
In the first half of the year, Hanoi welcomed a total of 12.3 million visitors, up 42% year-on-year. The figure included two million foreign tourists, seven times more than last year.
During the six-month period, Hanoi earned nearly VND45 trillion (US$1.9 billion) from tourism, up about three-quarters from the first half of last year.
Despite the prospects, local businesses are still awaiting further guidance from the government on extending the validity of e-visa.
Director of Golden Tour Vietnam Pham Tien Dung said Vietnamese tour operators have been working with their overseas partners to plan their operations.
"All we need is a transparent and clear instruction on immigration," he said. "Our products and services are ready, but we are waiting for the government to clarify the rule."
According to Tran The Dung, General Director of Vietluxtour Travel, his company is unsure which countries will benefit from the new e-visa policy.
"The majority of long-stay tourists come from Europe, Australia and the US, and they have planned their trips a long time ago. I think the new rule will have an impact on the tourism sector in October at the earliest," he said.