Vietnam welcomed about 3.96 million foreign visitors in the first eight months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 18.4 percent, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

In August alone, the number of foreign arrivals rose 14.5 percent to 490,000.

According to relevant agencies, growth was seen in all markets. Cambodia took the lead with a surge of 74.2 percent, followed by China , 53.5 percent; Malaysia , 18.7 percent; Japan , 11.7 percent, Singapore , 10.6 percent.

Besides, the number of domestic holiday makers reached 23 million in the January-August period.

VNAT Director General Nguyen Van Tuan attributed the growth to a series of tourism-related events in localities nationwide, such as the carnival in Quang Ninh province, the international fireworks contest in Da Nang city, the sea tourism week in Khanh Hoa province and activities of the National Tourism Year in Phu Yen province.

Vietnam has by August had about 12,000 hotels with 240,000 rooms, including 53 five-star hotels, 118 four-star hotels, and 245 three-star hotels. About 980 international travel agencies are operating in the country.

To meet the target of welcoming 5.5 million foreign visitors in this year, the tourism sector focuses on key tasks for the remaining months of this year, including organisation of activities of the National Tourism Year, the International Tourism Fair in HCM City , and preparations for the 2012 National Tourism Year in Hue ancient imperial city.

The sector plans to participate in foreign tourism fairs and promote tourism markets in China , Russia , Ukraine , Denmark and Norway. /.