Vietnam welcomed almost 5.5 million foreign tourists in the first nine months of this year, up 9.9 percent year on year , according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

In September alone, the country attracted nearly 615,000 foreign holidaymakers, an increase of 28.9 percent over the same period last year.

The VNAT released the figures in Hanoi on September 26 at a ceremony to launch activities in response to World Tourism Day 2013 (September 27), which is an initiative of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

VNAT Deputy Head Nguyen Manh Cuong announced plans set by Vietnam’s tourism sector to further promote the national tourism in the coming time.

Almost 200 students from universities and colleges in Hanoi are scheduled to join a bicycle riding programme to respond the event on September 27.

Themed “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”, this year’s event underlines tourism’s responsibility and needed commitment to preserving the world’s vital water resources.

It is a unique opportunity to examine the challenges facing water management in tourism and the measures being undertaken by the sector to protect and promote water resources while creating benefits for local populations around water tourism destinations.-VNA