HCM CITY â The Viet Nam's cruise tourism industry plans to welcome more than 1 million tourists on cruises by 2015, according to the National Administration of Tourism.
The country expects to see a peak in cruise tourism season this year.
This year, travel agencies have already seen a large number of international cruises to Can Tho and HCM City as well as coastal Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh provinces.
In January, Viet Nam received about 19 international cruises and 12 river steamers of the world's leading shipping companies, including Costa Classica, SuperStar, Aquarius and Indochine, which brought thousands of international travelers from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan and China.
In February, the five-star Costa Classica docked at Ha Long Bay five times, bringing about 10,000 visitors.
Ha Long Bay is a favourite destination for cruise tourists who enjoy sightseeing around the area. The bay received more than 51,000 visitors in the last few months of 2011.
Nha Trang and Vung Tau are also attractive destinations for cruises.
In November last year, the Sun Princess, carrying 2,000 passengers, docked at the coastal cities of Nha Trang and Vung Tau.
The number of cruise travelers to Viet Nam is expected to increase by 30 per cent by the end of this year.
Nguyen Van Tuan, general director of the National Administration of Tourism, said that one of the most important features of the plan to develop Viet Nam's tourism until 2020 was to build large â scale marine tourism complexes that would be competitive with other countries in the region.
The cruise ships Costa Classica, Costa Romantica, SuperStar Virgo, SuperStar Aquarius, Pacific Venus and Europa have signed long-term contracts with local travel firms or have regularly organised tours to Viet Nam.
However, according to Nguyen Thi Minh Thu, director of Mekong Tourism Company, many cruises stay in Viet Nam for only several days, while others consider Viet Nam as a transit port only.
Viet Nam should cooperate with partners to improve basic infrastructure and enhance services in order to attract more travelers to stay longer or encourage them to return, she said.
The Saigontourist travel company plans to build modern marinas at popular sea tourism sites so that cruises can dock at ports more easily.
The travel company is calling for investment in an amusement and marina complex in HCM City's Nha Be District, with total capital of about US$64 million.
Cruise tourism plays a crucial role in the future of the country's tourism industry, according to Nguyen Manh Cuong, from the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.
Viet Nam is well-known for its beautiful bays and beaches, making it an ideal destination for cruise tourists from around the world.