About 6.5 million Vietnamese tourists traveled abroad last year, an increase of 15 percent from 2015, according to the national tourism association.
The estimate was based on official statistics from the most preferred destinations of Vietnamese tourists, including Thailand, Singapore, China, South Korea and Japan.
“There are no government agencies compiling data on the number of Vietnamese traveling overseas," Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said. "This is our best estimate."
“Vietnamese traveling abroad is a growing trend,” Binh said.
Industry insiders say as more Vietnamese join the middle class, they increasingly look outward for travel destinations.
It is estimated that Vietnamese tourists spend $7-$8 billion per year overseas, Binh said. He said that last year, despite some bleak news headlines about the economy, Vietnamese travelers are not affected.
The waves of Vietnamese heading overseas have been a boon for tour operators.
According to the Saigon Times, 10 biggest Ho Chi Minh City-based tour operators recorded revenue worth of VND5.5 trillion ($243 million) in 2015.
The number of Vietnamese visiting South Korea last year, for instance, soared 58 percent from a year before to 240,000.
The country has more than 1,000 tourism companies, of which 70 percent offer overseas tour packages to locals.
Vietnamese passport holders can travel to 47 countries and territories without applying for a visa, according to the 2016 visa restriction index by Canada-based Henley & Partners.