As many as 287 passengers came from Germany and 256 others from the UK on Vietnam Airlines’ flights were the honoured guests of Ho Chi Minh City at a ceremony to welcome first foreign visitors on the New Year Day.

In 2011, the city received over 3.5 million foreign tourists and plans to welcome about 3.9 million foreign visitors in 2012.

Meanwhile, the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh presented flowers to the first foreign tourists to Ha Long Bay, the one of the UNESCO-recognised World Culture Heritage sites.

Nearly 100 Chinese and Japanese visitors boarded boats at Bai Chay port early morning for sight-seeing cruise.

According to the provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, by noon, about 5,000 domestic and foreign tourists went on tours of the bay.

Quang Ninh served 6.2 million tourists, both domestic and international, in 2011 and aims to attract 7 million visitors this year.

Hanoi also held a “Hanoi Tourism Day” in front of Ly Thai To Statue next to Hoan Kiem Lake on the first day of the New Year.

Photos and exhibits introducing Hanoi tourism, travel agencies and traditional crafts villages were showcasing at 30 booths.

During the day, circus, traditional singings and martial arts were performed at stages around the lake./.