Foreign arrivals to Vietnam in the first five months rose 20 percent from a year ago thanks to recovery in almost all markets, especially those with preferential visa exemptions.
Data from the General Statistics Office showed that Vietnam welcomed more than four million foreign tourists this year, including more than one million from the biggest market China which was a 44 percent increase from last year.
South Korea and Japan remained in the top three markets. Visitors from South Korea shot up 31.4 percent year-on-year to more than 631,000, and from Japan up nearly 12 percent to more than 301,000.
Visitors from both countries can visit Vietnam for 15 days without a visa, under a waiver policy issued last year.
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 4.4 and 30 percent in the first five months.
Tourism revenues during the period reached nearly VND167.5 trillion (US$7.5 billion), up nearly 21 percent from last year.
Vietnam has become more popular among foreign tourists in recent years thanks to its beach destinations, according to recent Savills report.
The report released earlier this month said favorite beach destinations Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, and Phu Quoc performed very well in the past five years. Visitors to the three places grew around 23 percent every year and together accounted for 30 percent of all tourist arrivals to Vietnam. Khanh Hoa Province is home to famous Nha Trang Bay.
Tourism insiders have been urging the government to be more generous in its visa policy to make the country’s natural charm more appealing.
Vietnam’s tourism ministry last month urged the government to double the visa-free stay period for tourists from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK to 30 days to attract more visitors.
The country, which received less than eight million foreign visitors last year, now waives visa for 22 countries including nine member states in the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) block.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism last year proposed that the country should add another 19 to the list soon.