BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam and Cambodia have attracted more and more Chinese tourists in recent years, which is greatly contributing to people-to-people exchanges between China and Southeast Asia.
VIETNAM, CAMBODIA ATTRACTIVE DESTINATIONS
Vietnam is poised to host nearly 2.7 million Chinese visitors in the first eight months of this year, seeing a year-on-year increase of 51.4 percent, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said in late August.
Vietnam this year has so far welcomed a total of roughly 8.5 million international arrivals, up 29.7 percent, with the highest growth of 51.4 percent in the number of tourists from China.
Vietnam has been actively promoting its major tourist sites in China, hoping to lure some 4 million Chinese visitors this year, said the administration under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Last year, Vietnam welcomed more than 10 million foreign visitors, including 2.7 million Chinese tourists, seeing respective increases of 26 percent and 51.4 percent.
Meanwhile, about 530,000 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia in the first half of 2017, representing an increase of 40 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a Cambodian Tourism Ministry report released in August.
Chinese holidaymakers accounted for 20 percent of the foreign tourists visiting Cambodia during the six-month period, the report said.
Some 2.66 million international tourists traveled to Cambodia in the first six months of this year, up 12.8 percent year-on-year, it said, adding that China topped the chart among the top 10 arrivals to Cambodia.
Kong Sopheareak, director of the Tourism Ministry's statistics and planning department, told Xinhua that the excellent ties between Cambodia and China, Cambodia's attractive tourism sites and direct flights between the two countries are the key factors attracting more and more Chinese tourists and business people to his country.
"It is expected that Chinese tourists to Cambodia will reach 1 million in 2017," he said.
Last year, Cambodia launched a "China Ready" strategy with the aim of attracting 2 million Chinese tourists annually to Cambodia by 2020.
The strategy listed steps to be taken by tourism authorities to facilitate visits by Chinese tourists, such as providing Chinese signage and documents for visa processing, encouraging local use of the Chinese currency and the Chinese language, and ensuring that food and accommodation facilities are suited to Chinese tastes.
Cambodia, known for the Angkor world heritage site, received 5 million foreign tourists including 830,000 Chinese in 2016, earning a gross revenue of 3.4 billion U.S. dollars, according to the country's Tourism Ministry.
TOURISM BOOM BETWEEN CHINA, ASEAN
This year marks the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism.
According to a report on bilateral cooperation in tourism released earlier this month during the 14th China-ASEAN Expo, more than 30 million trips were made in 2016 between China and ASEAN countries, compared with 10 million in 2011.
The two are each other's largest overseas tourist destinations and largest sources of tourists, said the report.
The rapid expansion of China-ASEAN tourism has pushed ahead with regional economic integration, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen when addressing the opening ceremony of the expo, which was held on Sept. 12-15 in Nanning city of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"The development of tourism has also promoted communication between peoples' hearts," said Hun Sen.
Favorable visa polices and improved traffic are behind the prosperity of China-ASEAN tourism, said Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy.
In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a Chinese tourist can enjoy a one-day tour of Dongxing and neighboring Mong Cai in Vietnam by showing only his or her ID card.
From January to June, nearly 368,000 cross-border trips were made via Dongxing, up 17.8 percent year-on-year.
Cooperation on cross-border trips between China and Vietnam has become a model for tourism cooperation between China and ASEAN, said Zhai Kun, a professor of international relations at Peking University.
Since 2000, nearly 20 documents have been signed to encourage bilateral tourism.
Among the 10 ASEAN countries, nine offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies for Chinese tourists. More than 2,700 flights fly between China and ASEAN countries every week.
Cross-border trips between China and Vietnam are conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, promote appreciation of each other's culture, and contribute to the exchanges and cooperation between China and Southeast Asia, Zhai said.