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EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 18:58 GMT
Vietnam sees tourism boom
Beach scene in Nha Trang, Vietnam
Vietnam boasts great beaches and golf courses

A boom in the number of tourists visiting Vietnam is providing strong revenues for the country.

Major private and government-owned hotels are reporting high occupancy rates and the national airline says passenger numbers increased by 80% last year.

The Vietnamese tourist authorities expect last year's strong growth to continue in 2003 with the General Administration of Tourism forecasting almost three million foreign tourists over the year.

Meanwhile, many other countries in the region are coping with empty airline seats and quiet hotels.

Countries like Indonesia and the Philippines are trying to find ways to bring tourists back to resorts cleared out by the threat of bombs or kidnappings.

New image

Vietnam is capitalising on its reputation as one of the safest destinations in Asia, a business ranking given by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in Hong Kong last October.

Hanoi cathedral
Vietnam's rich history is a selling point

There's also a surge in interest in a country which is emerging from a stereotype framed by years of war.

Vietnam is modernising, opening up and developing its economy.

It has also begun running tourism campaigns to encourage foreigners to see what it has to offer.

Five star beach resorts, golf courses, adventure travel and centuries of history are pulling in more tourists from traditional markets as well as new ones.

They include France, Japan, the United States, South Korea and Thailand.

Downside

Vietnam's national tourist office says foreign visits exceeded 2.6 million last year, generating revenue of more than $1.5bn.

This year the target is 2.8 million tourists, a figure which jumps to 17 million if domestic tourism is included.

It's difficult to independently check the Communist Government's tourism figures, and it is hard to say how well Vietnam's infrastructure will cope with a continuing increase.

But Vietnam's economic development is increasing the gap between its richest and poorest people.

One of the biggest challenges could be to ensure the benefits of tourism are shared.

See also:

03 Dec 02 | Business
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18 Dec 02 | Country profiles
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