Da Nang city (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Hundreds of foreign tourists arrived in Vietnam on the first day of the New Year 2016, promising a busy season for the tourism industry in the year.

On the outset of January 1, the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City welcomed the first international delegation of over 500 visitors from Japan and China’s Taiwan.

The city’s Department of Tourism in conjunction with the municipal Tourism Association (HTA) and the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines held a ceremony to welcome the first callers.

Foreign holidaymakers were treated to Vietnamese tea and coffee for free at the Tan Son Nhat international airport and received numerous gifts such as “non la” (palm-leaf conical hat), tea and coffee.

Hideyuki Okahara from Japan said he is very glad to be warmly welcomed at the airport and described this as a surprising gift for him and his family.

Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Tourism La Quoc Khanh said the ceremony puts the first note for a series of events in the 2016 tourism festival, which also include an “ao dai” (Vietnamese traditional dress) show, southern food and fruit festivals.

It aims to promote the image of the city as an attractive, safe, and friendly destination for foreign tourists, he added.

HCM City greeted nearly 4.6 million international vacationers in 2015, a year-on-year increase of 4.6 percent.

The local tourism sector grossed 94.6 trillion VND (4.16 billion USD) in revenue, a yearly rise of 10 percent.

The city is particularly attractive to tourists from the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, France and Thailand.

In 2016, the southern hub strived to welcome 5.1 million foreign tourists and 21.8 domestic ones.

Also on the first day of the New Year, the central coastal city of Da Nang welcomed the first 180 foreign visitors at an international airport of the same name.

The tourists are scheduled to visit attractions such as Ba Na Hill, Son Tra Peninsula, “Ngu Hanh Son” (Marble Mountains), and Cham Museum.

According to the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, more than 56,000 foreigners are expected to visit Da Nang on the Christmas season and the Calendar New Year, up 26.1 percent year-on-year.

Deputy Director Tran Chi Cuong said the local tourism industry earned 12.7 trillion VND (558.8 million USD) in revenue in 2015, surpassing the yearly target by 7.6 percent.

The city served 4.6 million visitors during the year, including over 1.2 million international tourists, exceeding the annual target by 8.7 percent.

In 2016, it aims to welcome over 5.1 million visitors, including 1.32 million from abroad, to gross 14 trillion VND (616 million USD) in revenue.

Meanwhile, Florence Bernard and her spouse Buisson Bernard from France became the first callers of Hanoi in the New Year.

At a welcome ceremony in the Thang Long Imperial Citadel on January 1, the guests said they are very proud and happy to be the first visitors to the capital of Hanoi in 2016.

They shared that they will stay in Vietnam for 15 days to visit Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Quang Ninh, Hue, and Hoi An (Quang Nam).-VNA