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New Vietnam visa fee puts off US travellers

Many travel companies are complaining about rising difficulties in attracting American tourists following a change in the visa policies for US citizens.

According to a new agreement signed between the Vietnamese and US governments, Vietnamese and US citizens will be granted with 12-month, multiple-entry visas to travel temporarily for business or tourism at the cost of USD135.

Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions told the Nguoi Lao Dong Newspaper on September 5 that local travel companies have yet to receive any announcement on the rise in visa fee from USD25 to USD135 for US tourists while some customs offices have applied the new fee from August 29.

“We’re really worried about this changes," Anh said. "There’s been no official document about the new fees so we can’t inform our clients and I'm sure they will be unhappy and even criticise us when being charged this new fee. For those who only pay USD5 when coming here by sea may get shocked when having to pay USD135 to get a visa to leave by air."

Le Phong Tran from Fiditour Company also complained that the fee hike is causing troubles for local travel companies when negotiating contracts with US partners.
"We now really need a detailed document to instruct which groups of tourists must pay USD135 in visas and who don’t," Tran said.

Tran Thi Viet Huong from Vietravel Company said that the new regulation only benefits businessmen who have to travel regularly between two countries, but will badly affect tourists who only wish to visit Vietnam for one time.

"Most tourists will make only one visit to Vietnam in a year," Huong explained. "So this is an unreasonable visa fee compared to the previous fee of USD25 a month or USD50 for three months. While we have been trying to propose visa exemptions or reductions for international tourists, this new regulation will have a negative effect on our efforts to attract American tourists."

A report from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism showed that US is one of the major tourism markets for Vietnam. 386,800 American tourists arrived in Vietnam in the first eight months of this year.

Admit rising complaints from local travel companies over the new visa fee, vice chairman of HCM City Tourism Association, Nguyen Thi Khanh, said that they would seek measures to deal with the problem.

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