Vietnam’s tourism industry is moving in the right direction, and the country’s 2016 visitor numbers rose at one of the fastest rates in the world, according to a new United Nations report.
A global report published this week by the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranked Vietnam’s tourism growth as seventh in the world, and the country was the only destination in Southeast Asia to make the top 10. Indonesia was ranked in 20th place.
Sierra Leone topped the list thanks to the eradication of Ebola in November 2015.
Foreign visitors to Vietnam rose 26 percent to a record 10 million last year, earning the tourism industry VND400 trillion ($17.6 billion). Foreign arrivals to the country in the first half of this year increased 30 percent from a year ago to more than 6.2 million, according to the General Statistics Office.
The country has been rising in popularity, with the New York Times late last year naming it a place to travel in your twenties.
The central seaside town of Hoi An was selected as one the world’s top destinations in 2017 by TripAdvisor users, who also selected Da Lat and Sa Pa among the best vacation choices for the year.
The Telegraph also recommended Hanoi for an amazing food experience, while Ho Chi Minh City has cracked various lists of top destinations for solo and retiree travelers. Both cities were named among the world’s fastest growing destinations by MasterCard last year, and more recently by Price of Travel as on of the cheapest cities for backpackers.
Vietnam has been working hard to promote tourism.
With visa waiver policies for big markets in Asia and Europe, as well as a new e-visa system, the country hopes to welcome 17-20 million foreign visitors and make $35 billion per year from tourism by 2020, contributing 10 percent to the country’s economy, compared to the current 7.5 percent.
Its top lawmakers have approved a brand new tourism development fund to boost tourism, which will be sourced from visa fees and an annual budget of $2.5 million the government sets aside for tourism promotions every year.