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Visa fee exemptions extended till year-end

2009-10-21 (GMT + 7)

Foreign tourists buying package tours to Vietnam under the Impressive Vietnam promotion campaign will enjoy an exemption on visa fees until the end of the year instead of end-September, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

VNAT’s travel department said the Government Office on Monday announced the Prime Minister had agreed to a request of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for the extension in line with the extended tourism promotion.

Vietnam’s tourism agency early this year launched the Impressive Vietnam program offering discounts of 30%-50% for visitors buying package tours from travel agencies in the program.

To help the country’s tourism attract more foreigners, the Government in May agreed to exempt visa fees for foreigners who enter Vietnam on these package tours.

The travel department said more than 20 travel companies had registered for their guests to enjoy free visas.

Despite efforts from the tourism sector, international tourists in Vietnam are still lower than last year.

According to the General Statistics Office, nearly 2.8 million foreigners visited the country in Jan-Sept, down 6.6% year-on-year.

In related news, the Prime Minister issued a regulation to map out and realize the national tourism promotion program for 2009-2010.

Under the regulation, the Prime Minister assigns the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to collect, classify, approve and realize the national tourism promotion program every year. Each program should combine activities to promote tourism, trade, investment and culture.

The regulation stipulates that programs to promote the country’s tourism via local and foreign media, tourism conferences, meetings, events and other activities will receive financial support from the State.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, deputy head of the market department of the VNAT, said the budget which the regulation mentions belongs to the Trade, Investment, Tourism Promotion fund. Along with the budget, the country’s tourism is supported by the National Tourism Action Program.

HCMC-based Fiditourist has signed deals to receive 10,500 local and foreign MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) tourists this quarter, up 32% year-on-year, a source from Fiditourist said.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, director of the public relations, communications and advertising department of the company, said that around 50% of the guests were from Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia and the others locals.

“The result is better than expected because we’ve received 27,000 MICE guests in the first nine months only,” she said.

Fiditourist welcomed big groups of MICE tourists, like the group of 200 Japanese businessmen and others from South Korea and America and Japanese businessmen living in Vietnam, to the coastal city of Nha Trang October 9-12 to join the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Marathon. Around 60 Singaporean students visited the country from October 5 to 10.

The company will receive another group of 80 MICE tourists from the Philippines this week.

Mai said MICE guests were growing and would account for around 30% of the total tourists of Fiditourist in 2009.

Source: VietNamNet/SGT

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