Vietnam welcomed its 10 millionth annual foreign visitor for the first time on December 25 at Phu Quoc International Airport off the coast of the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang province.

The lucky visitor comes from England and will receive a souvenir, together with the two visitors who were 9,999,999th and 10,000,001st.

This is the first time Vietnam has welcomed 10 million international arrivals in a calendar year and represents an increase of 25 per cent year-on-year. Visitor numbers from Northeast Asia and Western Europe have risen remarkably.

The country also catered to more than 62 million domestic travelers this year, with total revenue estimated at VND400 trillion ($18 billion), according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

2016 saw a number of important events in the tourism industry, according to Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan, Director-General of VNAT. For the first time a national conference on tourism development was held, in Hoi An ancient town.

VNAT also announced the introduction of a website promoting local tourism, at, which is the result of a cooperation between VNAT and the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) on e-marketing for Vietnamese tourism on websites and social media.

A visa-free policy was also introduced for citizens from five countries in Western Europe - the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - for stays of less than 15 days.

On January 1, 2017, Vietnam begins issuing e-visas for foreign tourists, aimed at providing easier access. Foreign visitors can apply for visas and have them issued online within three days.

Payments can be made via bank transfers to guarantee transparency and convenience for tourists, as well as minimizing intermediary costs. No letter of guarantee or invitation is required for online visa applications, and visas will be issued within three days of an application with a validity of 30 days.

The tourism sector has set goals of 11.5 million foreign visitors and revenue of VND460 trillion ($20.24 billion) for 2017. It also targets becoming a spearhead economic sector by 2020.