The tourism industry needs US$42.5 billion in investment for its development over the next 10 years, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The ministry announced the information at a meeting in the capital on Wednesday alongside an industry development strategy for 2020, emphasising the importance of improving product quality, sharpening competitiveness and enhancing trademarks.
In his speech at the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan called on the industry to take full advantage of the country's tourism potential, including its long stretch of coastline and string of islands.
The deputy PM urged tourism leaders to explain the low ratio of foreign tourists returning to the country while also focusing on training staff to meet international standards and the requirements of specific co-operation promotion programmes.
He also suggested that the ministry complete its development strategy for submission to the Prime Minister for approval as soon as possible.
According to new measures, the tourism sector aims to receive 7-7.5 million foreign visitors and 35-37 domestic travellers by 2015. That could help it contribute 5.5-6 per cent to the country's GDP in the same year.
It targets 10-10.5 million international arrivals and 47-48 million domestic tourists, contributing 6.5-7 per cent to the country's GDP in 2020.
Some 5.3 million foreign visitors came to the country in the first 11 months of 2011, up 15.9 per cent year-on-year, meeting the country's tourism target, according to the General Statistics Office.
China topped the table, with 1.2 million visitors coming to the country, up 49 per cent on last year. Meanwhile, there were 473,000 visitors from South Korea, up 5.1 per cent on 2010.
Visitor numbers from Japan, the US, France, Cambodia, Taiwan, Australia and Malaysia also surged significantly.
HCM City was one of the most attractive destinations for foreign tourists. The city received nearly 3.1 million foreign visitors in the first 11 months, up 8.4 per cent over the same period last year.