The south-central Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa, home to the famed resort city of Nha Trang, targets to welcome four million tourists in 2015, the provincial administration has announced.
The province also hopes to rake in VND6.5 trillion (US$305.94 million) from tourist spending this year, as part of an initiative to promote the provincial tourist industry.
In 2014 the south-central province, 430km from Ho Chi Minh City, received some 3.6 million tourists, exceeding its target of 3.4 million holidaymakers. In 2013, the number of tourists was three million.
In the year to November 2014, Khanh Hoa welcomed more than 3.3 million tourists, up 22 percent from the same period in 2013, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Of these, 210,000 vacationers were from Russia, the country which remains the largest source of visitors for Khanh Hoa, followed by those from South Korea, Australia, China and Belgium, according to the Hanoi-based newswire.
The Khanh Hoa administration says it is implementing cooperative programs run with places around the world such as Morbihan (France), Ulsan (South Korea), Gomel (Belarus), Moravia (Czech Republic), and Antalya (Turkey). The Vietnamese province has also entered into tourism development pacts with Russia’s Primorye region and North Australia.
It will also seek to expand cooperation with countries that have strong tourism development such as Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. this year.
These are measures taken by the Khanh Hoa administration to diversify international arrivals to the province at a time when the number of Russian tourists is on a downward trend, apparently following the ruble crisis.
Khanh Hoa is expected to experience a sharp decline in Russian arrivals in the first half of this year.
Tourists can reach Khanh Hoa and Nha Trang by road from Ho Chi Minh City or by air via Cam Ranh International Airport, which welcomed its 2 millionth passenger of 2014 on December 30.
The airport has also been added to the list of exit terminals that offer VAT refunds for foreigners, starting Tuesday, January 6.
Foreigners will be able to receive a refund for goods worth at least VND2 million (US$94) per receipt per day and purchased within 30 days of their exit date when leaving the country through Cam Ranh airport.
They will receive 85 percent of the value-added tax imposed on their purchases and the remaining 15 percent will be counted as service fees for the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank), which is tasked with refunding the visitors.
Khanh Hoa chairman Nguyen Chien Thang told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in September last year that the province has plans to convert the Nha Trang port, located near the heart of the eponymous city, into an international cruise port, the first of its kind in the country, in 2015.
Nha Trang port currently hosts cargo and passenger ships and is operated by the state-owned Vietnam National Shipping Lines, commonly known as Vinalines.
After the conversion, the port will not only welcome international passenger vessels, but also cruise ships, according to the chairman.