HCMC Targets 2.8 Million Foreign Visitors for 2010, Sees 7% Drop in 2009 Arrivals

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Dec. 22 – Ho Chi Minh City hopes to welcome 2.8 million foreign visitors in 2010 after posting the first decline in arrivals since 2003 this year.

La Quoc Khanh, deputy head of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the drop of 7 percent in foreign arrivals had been expected since the middle of this year, when the city’s tourism sector began to feel the effects of the economic slump and the H1N1 pandemic Thanh Nien News reported.

According the Vietnamese state media, foreign arrivals to the city in 2009 were estimated at 2.6 million, much lower than the target of 3.1 million set earlier.

The last time the city posted a year-on-year decline in arrivals was in 2003 when the SARS epidemic hit the tourism sector in the entire region was badly affected.

Khanh said he hoped the situation would improve next year. “At first we only set a target of 2.7 million arrivals for 2010. But after tour operators and hotels reported their bookings numbers, we raised it to 2.8 million.”