Developing community-based tourism is expected to help local residents improve their living standards and promote their cultural values, a senior tourism official said at a ceremony in Hanoi on September 26 on the occasion of World Tourism Day.

“Tourism and Community Development” is the theme of this year’s event, which is observed annually on September 27. This new trend demonstrates that Vietnam ’s tourism sector is in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Van Tuan said Vietnam valued community efforts in driving the tourism industry. Local residents in major cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Hue have become actively involved in the field, he added.

In the near future, the tourism sector will help locals diversify their tourism services and draw in more visitors.

Mary McKeon, Team Leader of the EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development (ESRT) programme, said Vietnam was rich in culture thanks to its 54 different ethnic groups.

With this advantage, the country would be able to take the lead in community-based tourism.

World Tourism Day is an occasion for Vietnam to show off its potential in developing community-based tourism in a sustainable manner, she added.

Vietnam welcomed close to 5.5 million international tourists during the first nine months of this year, an increase of 9.9 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the administration.

In 2013, Vietnam welcomed over 35 million domestic and 7.57 million international tourists, up by 7.7 percent and 10.6 percent respectively year-on-year. The tourism sector generated 200 trillion in revenue, an annual rise of 25 percent.-VNA