Vietnam finishes third in Southeast Asia race for tourist dollars

By Ha Phuong   May 17, 2017 | 09:00 am PT
Thailand is way ahead of the game, but Vietnam welcomed record tourism revenue in 2016.

Tourists arrivals in Vietnam past the 10 million mark last year, and the $18 billion in revenue collected by the sector contributed around 7.5 percent to the country’s economy.

According to tourism data, Vietnam fell far short of Southeast Asia's most popular destination, Thailand, which received over 30 million international arrivals and bagged nearly $46 billion from tourists.

The entire region, excluding Myanmar and Brunei, raked in an estimated $120 billion from tourism, based on data compiled by VnExpress International. However, the figure was just half that earned by the United States alone.

On average, each visitor to the U.S. spent approximately $3,000, while in Asia, their spending was three times less.

However, Vietnam made significant progress by rising eight places in a global tourism competitiveness index compiled by the World Economic Forum. It also said the country could take better advantage of this momentum by focusing more on sustainable environment policies.

Tourists are mostly lured by Vietnam’s rich natural and cultural resources.

By 2020, the sector is expected to contribute 10 percent to Vietnam’s gross domestic product and is set to welcome 17-20 million foreign visitors per year.

By 2030, it is aiming to become the leading destination in Southeast Asia.

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