|HCM City's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Tourism Association and Vietnam Airlines held a reception at the city-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport to welcome the first foreign visitors of the year yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS)— HCM City welcomed the first foreign visitors of the year yesterday with a reception at Tan Son Nhat International Airport for a group of 180 arriving on a flight from Hong Kong at 9.25am.
The guests, believed to bring good luck to the host in the whole year according to Vietnamese tradition, received flowers and souvenirs from officials from the city, airlines and hospitality firms.
"The welcome ceremony is the first event in a series of cultural and tourism activities [to be held] through the year to promote the image of HCM City as a friendly, attractive, and safe destination," La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said.
The city hopes to receive about 4.5 million foreign visitors in 2014, 7 per cent more than last year, he said.
In 2013, 3.48 million came in the city by air, 568,000 by land and 61,000 by sea.
Tourism revenue rose 15 per cent to nearly VND82 trillion (US$3.9 billion), accounting for 11 per cent of the city's GDP.
Also yesterday, a group of 250 passengers on a flight from Tokyo became 2014's first international guests to the central city of Da Nang.
The city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism also organised a warm welcome ceremony at the airport.
This year, Da Nang aims to receive 3.6 million tourists, including 880,000 international guests. These goals are 15 and 18 per cent higher than last year's. The city expects to earn over VND8.8 trillion ($420 million) from tourism, 13 per cent more than 2013.
Arts performances and gifts greeted the 24 German tourists who were the year's first visitors to Hoi An, a world cultural heritage site in the central province of Quang Nam.
The previous day, Quang Nam province welcomed its 1.6 millionth foreign visitor: Fujita Naechita, who came to Hoi An for the first time with his wife and was chosen at random from his tour group.
Quang Nam counted some 3.4 million tourist arrivals in 2013, including 1.6 million foreigners and 1.8 million domestic visitors, up by 19 per cent and 22 per cent from 2012. Tourism revenue was estimated at VND1.8 trillion ($85.7 million), up 23.8 per cent.
The central coastal province is home to several major tourist destinations in addition to Hoi An, such as the world cultural heritage site of My Son sanctuary and the world biosphere reserve of Cu Lao Cham. — VNS