More than 7.2 million foreign visitors arrived in Vietnam in the first 11 months of this year, surging 5.4 percent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Of the total, more than 4.36 million foreigners chose Vietnam as their holiday destination, up four percent year-on-year, while more than 1.21 million others came for business purposes, up 6 percent.

GSO data showed that the number of visitors from China's Hong Kong saw a year-on-year increase of 61.2 percent, followed by Germany (51.3 percent), Russia (25.2 percent) and Spain (23 percent), besides Cambodia (18.2 percent) and Italy (13 percent).

However, modest decreases were seen in several markets such as Finland (7.9 percent), Thailand (6.5 percent) and Indonesia (2.3 percent).

Last month, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism approved a tourism marketing strategy until 2020, which focuses on both international and domestic markets.

Drawn up by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the strategy specified priorities for the country's tourism, including development of brands of unique and diverse products such as cultural heritage, beaches and seas and islands, besides eco-tourism.

The top-priority markets are Japan, The Republic of Korea and mainland China, as well as Taipei, Russia and Southeast Asia, besides Australia and New Zealand. The ministry said India and the Middle East are promising markets that need to be developed.

Marketing activities will continue in Western and Eastern Europe and North America, it said.

Vietnamplus quoted the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism as saying that the contribution of tourism to the economy has increased significantly in recent years.

In 2013, Vietnam received 7.5 million international tourists, a 10.6 percent rise over 2012, contributing 200 trillion VND (9.4 billion USD) to the State budget, or accounting for approximately 6 percent of the country's GDP.

The domestic hospitality sector is expected to welcome 8 million foreign and 37.5 million domestic tourists by the end of the year.-VNA