Welcome ceremony was held for foreign tourists arriving in Ha Long City on the first day of 2018 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam expects to welcome its 15 millionth foreign visitor of 2018 in Ha Long City, the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh, in late November or early December.

The province, home to the world natural heritage site of Ha Long Bay, is the host of the National Tourism Year 2018 themed “Ha Long-Heritage, Wonder, Friendly Destination”.

Highlights of the National Tourism Year 2018, which offers at least 51 cultural, sports and tourism events, included the opening ceremony and the Carnaval Ha Long 2018 in Ha Long city, which took place last April.

Meanwhile, the closing programme will be held in January 2019 in combination with the opening of the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 and the Ha Long - FLC 2019 open golf tournament.

As a result, during the first nine months of 2018, Quang Ninh welcomed more than 10 million tourists, completing 83 percent of its target for the whole year.

The provincial Department of Tourism reported that the number of international holidaymakers to the locality exceeded 3.6 million in the period, a rise of 19 percent against the same period last year, and fulfilling 72 percent of the yearly target.

During the period, the local tourism sector completed 80 percent of the yearly revenue target, earning more than 17.5 trillion VND (747.3 million USD), up 30 percent year-on-year.

Quang Ninh hopes to welcome 12 million visitors for the entire year, including five million foreigners, and earn 22 trillion VND (968 million USD) in tourism revenue.

By 2020, the province aims to welcome 15-16 million tourists, including 7 million foreigners, and rake in 30 trillion VND - 40 trillion VND (1.3 billion USD - 1.7 billion USD) in revenue. The tourism sector is expected to contribute 14-15 percent to the gross regional domestic product (GRDP).

According to Director of the provincial Tourism Department Pham Ngoc Thuy, Quang Ninh’s master plan on tourism development by 2020 with a vision to 2030 sets the target of turning Quang Ninh into an international tourism centre and the nation’s leading tourism centre which has a synchronous and modern infrastructure system and diversified tourism products.

With a range of stunning landscapes, clear turquoise sea and spectacular limestone pillars together with numerous tourism investment projects, Quang Ninh boasts huge potential to develop tourism.

The province has a coastline of more than 250 kilometres and over 2,000 islands, two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam. The spectacular stretch of coast connects the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay with majestic natural scenery, Bai Tu Long Bay, Van Don and Co To islands and Tra Co beach with Cat Ba National Park in the northern port city of Hai Phong.

Along with the renowned Ha Long Bay, Quan Lan, Minh Chau, Ngoc Vung, Dai beaches in Van Don island district and Tra Co and Vinh Thuc in Mong Cai city have grown in stature among domestic and international tourists thanks to their breathtaking sea and coral reef.

Together with the Bach Dang bridge and Ha Long-Quang Ninh Highway, Van Don International Airport, which will begin serving commercial flights in late 2018, is also expected to help attract more foreign holidaymakers to the province.

The airport is set to cater for nine air routes and be capable of serving some 7,000 passengers per day. It is hoped to have annual capacity of 2 – 2.5 million passengers by 2020 and 5 million by 2030.

Thanks to its clear investment policies, Quang Ninh has attracted a lot of strategic investors in luxury service tourism projects, thus helping change the face of the province and its tourism sector.

To date, some projects have been put into operation and produced effective results on local tourism such as the Vincom Ha Long commercial centre, Marina Plaza amusement park, Sun World Ha Long Park, the five-star Vinpearl Ha Long Bay Resort, and Wyndham and Hoang Gia (Royal) Hotels.-VNA