Foreigners visit Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A year-on-year surge of 20.1 percent was reported in the number of tourists from West European countries visiting Vietnam in the first five months of this year as a result of the 11-month-old visa exemption policy.

This is a considerable increase compared to an average growth of 5.35 percent between 2010-2014.

The result stemmed from a visa exemption programme launched in July 2015 which granted visa waivers to citizens of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism hoped that the visa waiver and tourism stimulus programmes would attract 1.1 million arrivals from those markets in the next few years, up 50 percent from 2015.

Vietnam now has visa waivers in place for 22 countries, including nine member states in the Association of South East Asian group.

The country expects to welcome 8.5 million foreign visitors and 60 million domestic travellers by the end of this year, earning a total 370 trillion VND (16.8 billion USD) in revenue.-VNA