The Vietnamese tourist visa is now five times more expensive.
The increase will mostly affect U.S. citizens entering Vietnam on tourist visas who, starting August 29, have to pay $135 for a multi-entry visa instead of $25 for a single-entry.
The fee hike comes after the Vietnamese government has agreed to extend visa validity for U.S. citizens, allowing them to enter the country on a one-year visa rather than a three-month.
The new visa policy is in accordance with an agreement between Vietnam and the U.S., Vu The Binh, vice chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association said in an interview with the Saigon Times.
Binh cited diplomatic officials saying that the U.S. requested the Vietnamese government to extend visa validity for its citizens as it has long done the same for Vietnamese passport holders, granting them one-year visas.
The Finance Ministry has fixed the fee for a one-year visa with multiple entries at $135 across the board, Binh added.
“The regulators are just too rigid. Most of tourists to Vietnam are on one-time and few-day travel trips so there is no need to apply for this type of visa,” Binh explained, referring to the fact that U.S. tourist will have to pay five times higher than they used to for the new visa.
The number of U.S. tourists coming to Vietnam annually is expected to rise to one million next year, according to tourism ministry.
Vietnam attracted nearly 500,000 U.S. travelers last year, 10 percent higher than the year before and received about 386,000 U.S. arrivals during the first eight months of this year, 15 percent up from the same period last year, government statistics show.
Since revenues from tourism services contribute around 6 percent to Vietnam’s gross domestic product, the government, in an attempt to attract more foreign tourists, has offered visa exemptions with single-entry visits to the citizens of some countries including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The new visa policy granted to U.S. citizens is also supposed to draw more tourists to Vietnam. However, when it comes into effect, said tourism operators, with a sudden hike in visa fees, it is highly likely to have adverse consequences.