The transport minister said the visa exemption for the five countries should boost travel and offset losses in the Chinese market.

The Ministry of Transport plans to strengthen air transport links with France, Germany and UK claiming the markets could grow about 9% and compensate for the losses in Chinese travellers. He gave no hint when the visa-free facility would be approved.

Accoriding to the ministry, the air transport sector saw a sharp decline in May and June as Chinese and Taiwan authorities warned residents not to travel to Vietnam.

In June, the number of flights between Vietnam and China, Taiwan and Hong Kong decreased by 62%, 26% and 6.3% respectively.

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has cancelled 298 return flights to 12 destinations in China from mid-May to late October, except for those to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

At the same time, airlines from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong announced flight cancellations until the end of October, reducing capacity by 34%.

Vietnam already allows nationals of 17 countries to enter the country without a visa. The length of stay differs.

Citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singpore, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan get a visa-free stay of up to 30 days.

Citizens of the Philippines get 21 days.

Citizens of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Japan, and South Korea get 15 days.

Citizens of Brunei and Myanmar for 14 days.

All travellers can visit Phu Quoc for 30 days without a visa, but they must, either enter through the island’s seaport, or through its airport after transiting through Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City’s international airports.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - September 8, 2014