Vietnam hosted nearly 2.4 million foreign visitors in the first 10 months of this year, a year-on-year rise of 27.5 per cent, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
The number of foreign tourists increased the most, by 39.7 per cent to nearly 1.3 million, followed by overseas Vietnamese returning home to visit relatives by 23.7 per cent to 387,000 and business visitors by 14.2 per cent to 427,000, said VNAT.
In the 10-month period, China, the United States and Japan became Vietnam's largest tourism markets with the numbers of visitors rising by 27.6 per cent, 28.8 per cent and 29.6 per cent to 646,000, 225,000 and 216,000 respectively.
"We hope to receive at least 1 million visitors from China in 2004. This is attainable because we have recently permitted Chinese people without visas, but laissez-passers to travel across Vietnam, instead of only seven northern localities as previously," said VNAT Deputy Head Pham Tu.
Vietnam aims to welcome 2.8 million foreign visitors and gain tourism revenues of 25 trillion VND (nearly 1.6 billion USD) this year, posting respective year-on-year rises of 27.3 per cent and 25 per cent, he said, adding that the figures would climb to 3 to 3.5 million international arrivals and more than 2 billion dollars in 2005.
According to a recent assessment of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Vietnam's annual tourism growth rate will reach 8.3 per cent in the next 10 years, ranking the fourth after Montenegro, China and India.