International arrivals to Vietnam are estimated at just above 570,000 in February, a year-on-year decrease of 18.3 percent.

Figures from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the General Statistics Office show that in the first two months of 2013, the country welcomed over 1.2 million foreign tourists, down 9.6 percent from the same period last year.

Sharp declines were seen in the markets of Germany (69 percent), followed by Hong Kong (55 percent), Laos (39.1 percent) and Denmark (35.9 percent).

Meanwhile, domestic tourism saw healthy growth in the first two months, with 7.8 million visitors, up 11.4 percent year-on-year, and revenues of 35 trillion VND, up 7.9 percent. The increase was attributable to the nine-day Lunar New Year festival.

In 2012, the sector served 6.85 million international visitors and 32.5 million domestic tourists, earning 160 trillion VND (7.6 billion USD).

Recently, the Prime Minister has approved a master development plan for the tourism sector to 2020 with a vision to 2030.

Accordingly, the sector’s overall target to 2020 is to make the tourism industry a key economic sector with high professionalism and modern and synchronous infrastructure.

The country is set to attract 7 - 7.5 million international tourists and serving 36 - 37 million domestic ones by 2015.-VNA