Twenty-five years after war, Vietnam becomes tourist stop

NEW YORK -- Some 530,000 tourists visited Vietnam during the first three months of this year, up 14% compared with the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Department of Tourism in Hanoi.

The department said it predicts Vietnam will receive approximately 2 million visitors this year, an increase of 12.5% compared with 1999, when there were 1.7 million tourist arrivals.

The department said the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30 were expected to continue the positive trend in tourist arrivals.

Vietnam has seen a sharp increase in tourists since opening up to the outside world in the last decade.

Of the 1.7 million tourists who visited last year, 27% came from China, 12% came from the U.S. (80% of these were of Vietnamese heritage) and 10% came from Taiwan.

The growth in Chinese visitors was attributed to an accord signed last year by Hanoi and Peking easing travel restrictions between the two countries.

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