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Vietnam to launch e-visas in 2017

Asia

Hanoi - Vietnam has been working on a scheme to grant electronic visas for foreign visitors next year, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

Phuc said at a national tourism development conference held in central Vietnam that the government has allocated about 200-billion Vietnamese dong (about R125-million) to speed up the implementation of the scheme so that e-visa system can be launched on January 1, 2017.

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Foreigners tour a busy street of Hanoi, Vietnam, in a cyclo, three wheeled taxi.

The move aims to attract more tourists to the country and boost the domestic tourism industry, local VNExpress online newspaper reported.

Phuc asked the ministries of finance, public security and foreign affairs to define e-visa fees and ensure foreign tourists are warmly welcomed upon arrival.

The e-visas will be issued to applicants in a printer-friendly email after they fill out an online application form.

This system is believed to further speed up the entire visa process, according to Kenneth Atkinson, chairperson of the Tourism Working Group under the Vietnam Business Forum.

Currently, a Vietnamese tourist visa may be obtained upon arrival at the country's international airports where tourists have to make long queues, or via Vietnamese embassies or consulates.

Vietnam has a visa waiver program for citizens from 21 countries, much fewer than other neighbouring countries like Malaysia (164), the Philippines (157), Indonesia (45) and Thailand (52).

Last month, in an attempt to attract more visitors, Vietnam renewed the 15-day visa waiver policy for citizens of Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy for another year.

By 2020, Vietnam targets to attract 10 million to 10.5 million international visitors with tourism revenue reaching $18-billion to $19-billion each year.

In the first seven months of this year, Vietnam received 5.55 million foreign tourists, a 24-percent year-on-year rise.

In 2016, Vietnam is set to welcome 8.5 million foreign tourists, up six percent over 2015.

Tourism revenue is expected to hit more than $16-billion, up nine percent year-on-year, said Vietnam's General Statistics Office.

Xinhua

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