Thousands of foreign holidaymakers on Friday arrived in Vietnam for their New Year’s trips and were warmly welcomed by the country that targets 8.5 million in international arrivals for 2016.
In Ho Chi Minh City, more than 200 passengers, mostly foreign tourists, were greeted with a special ceremony upon their arrival at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 9:15 am, as they were considered the very first international visitors to the city.
The visitors, who arrived on board the Vietnam Airlines flight VN 599 from Hong Kong and VN 581 from Kaohsiung, were given gifts typical for the Vietnamese traditions such as conical hats, teas and coffees, during the welcome event.
They were also treated to Vietnam’s traditional music performances at the airport as part of the ceremony jointly held by the city’s administration, travel association, tourism promotion center and the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines.
The family of Okuhara from Japan pose with their gifts. Photo: Tuoi Tre
On the New Year’s Day, there were more than 1,500 passengers arriving at Tan Son Nhat from such countries as Sweden, France, Japan, Singapore and Cambodia.
Saigontourist said they received a group of tourists from Austria, who will tour Hanoi and other northern provinces, whereas other travel firm such as Vietravel, Apex and TNK Travel took a number of vacationers to explore Ho Chi Minh City and the southern region.
Asa Josefsson, coming from Sweden, said she chose to spend her New Year’s holiday in Vietnam to see how the country has changed since her last trip ten years ago.
Josefsson was a reporter when she first visited Vietnam in 2006, and is now returning with her husband and two children, she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper at the airport.
The family will enjoy their retreat in Mui Ne, a resort town in south-central Vietnam, and later explore Ho Chi Minh City before returning home, she said.
In 2015 Ho Chi Minh City’s international arrivals topped 4.7 million, up 7 percent from 2014, according to the city’s tourism department. The city’s tourism revenue was VND96 trillion (US$4.29 billion), a 10 percent year on year increase.
The leading tourist markets of Ho Chi Minh City include the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Australia, Russia, Singapore and France.
This year the city will focus on promoting its tourism in such markets as West Europe, Northeast Asia, North America, Australia and the ASEAN, said Van Thi Bach Tuyet, director of the tourism department.
In 2015 Vietnam served 57 million domestic tourists and welcomed more than 7.9 million international visitors in 2015, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier, the first decrease since 2009.
Vietnam targets to receive 8.5 million international tourists, and serve 60 million domestic holidaymakers, in 2016, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
The country also aims to increase its tourism revenue to VND370 trillion (US$16.52 billion) from the VND338 trillion ($15.07 billion) turnover this year.