Vietnam recorded 170,772 Japanese arrivals, ranking third in international travel volume, in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
In the latest tourism sector performance report, China ranked number one, with international arrivals of 587,475 followed by the Republic of Korea (RoK) with 238,496 visitors during the first three months of the year.
Roughly 80,000 Vietnamese people travelled to Japan last year, VNAT reports.
HCM City Tourism Association Secretary General Ton That Hoa reports that Vietnam and Japan have enjoyed fruitful tourism cooperation, with steadily rising number of tourists recorded in both countries.
“In addition to the more traditional Southeast Asian tourist destinations, many Vietnamese are increasingly adding Japan and the RoK to the list of popular travel destinations,” he added.
Nguyen Minh Man, a senior official from Vietravel, a local tour operator which has focused on the Japanese market for over 18 years, reports the agency is stepping up its efforts to improve the quality of tourism services to attract more visitors to Vietnam.
“Each month, Vietravel welcomes on average 1,000-1,200 Japanese tourists to Hanoi and HCM City” he said, adding “The number of Vietnamese tourists to Japan during the lunar New Year holiday and the Cherry Festival in March 2014 saw a strong increase of over 200% from a year earlier.”
Saigontourist, one of leading cruise ship travel services, also reports that more Japanese tourists are travelling to Vietnam via marine routes. In the first quarter of this year, Saigontourist welcomed 58 cruise ships bringing in more than 20,000 international visitors, with about 10% of them originating from Japan.
Japan currently has a new visa exemption scheme for Vietnamese citizens, set to go into effect at the end of May and it should help foster tourism growth in both countries.