Vietnam prepares to greet 15 millionth visitor of the year

The country is set to welcome the 15 millionth visitor of the year late next month or early December.

A floating village in Ha Long Bay, northern Quang Ninh Province. Photo by Shutterstock

A representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said at a press conference Wednesday that the special guest would be welcomed at the famous Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh Province.

The year end is a peak travel season as foreign tourists, especially from the U.S. and Europe, visit Vietnam to escape the winter and enjoy the Xmas and New Year holidays.

Expectations are high that the country can fulfill its target of welcoming 16 million international visitors this year, said Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

More than 11.6 million foreigners arrived in Vietnam in the first nine months of this year, a 22.9 percent year-on-year increase. Last year's foreign arrivals is 12.9 million.

The continuous growth in tourist arrivals can be partly attributed to Vietnam’s efforts to relax its visa policy, Tuan added.

Visitors from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. will continue to receive visa exemptions for the next three years, authorities have said.

Vietnam first offered visa waivers for citizens from the five European countries in July 2015, and the policy had been updated annually until now.

Vietnam is among countries with the strictest visa policies in Asia. 

However, efforts are being made to relax this with an e-visa policy that is now available to people from 46 countries, with Indians and Australians added late last year.

A global report published last month by the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranked Vietnam’s tourism growth as fourth highest in the world.

By Nguyen Quy/ Vnexpress