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24/07/2018 - 09:59

Visa exemption for citizens of Western Europe: Good chance for Hue tourism

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the decision to extend visa exemption to Vietnam for citizens of five Western European countries, including: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. This is a good opportunity for Hue to attract this traditional visitor stream.

Western European visitors are always the main visitor stream of Hue tourism

More time staying in Hue

Western Europe, North America, Northeast Asia are three traditional and key markets of Hue. Western Europe alone has been the main stream of visitors since they got to know Hue tourism. According to the Provincial Department of Tourism, Western Europe accounted for over 30% market share visitors to Hue in 2017. Particularly, French visitors reached over 78 thousand, accounting for 9.6% of total visitors.

Mr. Le Huu Minh, Acting Director of the Provincial Department of Tourism, said that although the market could change over the years, especially the rise of emerging markets, three traditional markets of Western Europe, North America, Northeast Asia had always been the key markets.

Western European visitors have high spending levels. The product stream they mainly choose are finding out about culture. Hue has the strength of culture and heritages, which is a competitive advantage, and the first choice of Western European visitors to Vietnam. However, according to Mr. Le Ngoc Sanh, Chief of Office of the Provincial Tourism Department, in spite of Hue’s advantage, West European visitors can stay in Vietnam for only 15 days, and often choose trans-Vietnam tours due to limited time. They spend short stay in Hue, just for one night or two. There are even many visitor groups being unable to visit Hue as they do not have enough time, resulting in the incommensurate revenue from this visitor stream.

On May 10, 2018, the Government issued Resolution No. 54/NQ-CP to extend visa exemption for citizens of Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain for another 3 years, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. This is the best opportunity for Hue, Mr. Le Ngoc Sanh said.

The first advantage is the visa exemption period from 15 days up to 30 days. This time is suitable for the duration of visitors’ vacation, which is very convenient to organize trans-Vietnam tours in various forms. Therefore, one thing can be sure is that the time visitors spend staying in Hue will expand.

According to Hue tourism sector, the visa exemption makes visitors feel more comfortable, instead of spending time waiting for visas to be issued. This policy will increase competitive advantage for Hue in particular, and the whole country in general; visitors will be more active in booking tours, "hunting" cheap flight tickets, and can go whenever they want, instead of starting to make plan after having visas.

Western European visitors always choose cultural products that Hue has its own strengths.

Taking initiative to attract visitors

The pilot visa exemption policy for visitors from the five Western European countries had gone into effect for one year since July 2015. The second extension was in 2017 and would expired on June 30, 2018. Mr. Truong Thanh Minh, Director of Hue Tourism Promotion Center, said that the visa exemption for three years instead of one year would help the tourism sector have more favorable conditions and take the initiative of time to increase advertising and promotion to Western European market.

According to Mr. Truong Thanh Minh, in the previous years, the tourism sector had also actively promoted tourism products at the World Travel Market in London, the United Kingdom (WTM London 2017). Such promotions open opportunities for Hue tourism to attract the markets of United Kingdom in particular, as well as Western Europe and other countries in the world in general. Thereby, tourism sector is somehow aware of the needs of visitors so as to orient and build new products to meet the needs of the market.

For French market in 2017, the tourism sector "kicked off" the year by promoting images and tours on a famous travel magazine in France. This year, the tourism sector has planned to promote more strongly by taking part in a travel fair in France. At the same time, it has invited famtrip delegations, which are French travel businesses, to survey tours in Hue; and actively work with tour operators to well exploit the West European market to have cooperation and bring visitors to Hue.

According to Mr. Le Ngoc Sanh, Hue is a well-shaped destination for West European visitors. In addition to the promotion, the more important things which are being implemented by the sector are completing the products, especially upgrading the quality of services used by these visitors; and focusing on products of culture, history and cuisine.

According to the data released by Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), since the visa exemption policy was issued, the number of Western European visitors to Vietnam has grown sharply, with 720,000 arrivals in 2015, up to 855,000 arrivals in 2016, and reached 1.5 million arrivals in 2017.

Story and photos: Duc Quang

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