For the first month this year and perhaps in recent history, Americans quietly surpassed every other country in the number of visitors traveling to Vietnam in July, according to data compiled by Vietnam’s General Statistics Office. In July, 38,400 Americans visited Vietnam, exceeding the 36,100 visitors from China and far surpassing travelers from any other country.
So far this year, Vietnam has hosted 261,000 Americans compared to China’s 263,000, but the trend is unmistakenly western. Despite the global recession, there have been nearly as many visitors to Vietnam from the US, Canada, and France as there were last year, whereas visitors from Asian countries, especially China, are down dramatically.
Until now, Vietnam has been more a tourist and business destination of other Asian nations — Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan — more than western countries. More American on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Hue are likely to lead to stronger connections between Vietnam and the US, including more bridges between businesses and other organizations centered in both countries.