Foreign arrivals to Vietnam have recovered strongly after a year of lukewarm performance, reaching a record high number in the first quarter.
New data from the General Statistics Office showed that the number of visitors in the first three months increased 20 percent from a year ago to nearly 2.46 million. That was the biggest number ever recorded for the period.
Arrivals in March reached 820,480, up more than 28 percent year-on-year although the number was a slight decline from a very strong February.
Mainland China was Vietnam’s biggest market in the first three months with 580,524 arrivals, followed by South Korea with 408,157, which was up 30 percent from the same period last year.
Arrivals from Japan shot up 12 percent to 192,410 in the first quarter.
Tourists from Japan and South Korea can stay in Vietnam for 15 days without a visa.
Other markets that benefit from a similar visa policy – Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the UK – saw increases of between 6 and 28 percent in the first quarter.
The statistics office also reported more than VND109 trillion (US$4.9 billion) in tourism revenue from the first three months, up more than 21 percent year-on-year.
Foreign arrivals to Vietnam last year dropped for the first time in six years, by 0.2 percent from 2014.
The country has planned to start new promotion campaigns and issue visa waivers to more markets as it aims to attract 8.5 million foreign arrivals this year and 10.5 million in 2020.