Vietnam has been honored as the “World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2019” at the 26th World Travel Awards (WTA) held recently in Oman, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

The recognition of Vietnam as the world’s leading heritage destination reaffirms the country’s efforts to preserve cultural heritages and boost its status on THE global tourism map, the WTA said.

Vietnam is home to eight world heritage sites recognized by UNESCO: Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An ancient town, the Complex of Hue Monuments, Ha Long Bay, Trang An Landscape Complex, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, and the Ho Dynasty Citadel. The heritage sites and other destinations have repeatedly won acclaim from prestigious travel magazines in recent years.

Launched in 1993, the WTA have become a quality measure of the tourism industry and are considered the “Oscars of Tourism” by The Wall Street Journal. It acknowledges, rewards, and celebrates excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourist, and hospitality industries. The winners are chosen based on votes from the public and travel professionals across the globe.

Vietnam was chosen as Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination at the WTA awards for Asia and Oceania last October and also received the World’s Best Golf Destination 2019 award at the international World Golf Awards held in the UAE the same month.

Vietnam’s tourism sector set a new record in welcoming 16.3 million international visitors in the first eleven months of 2019, an increase of 15.4 per cent over the same period last year.

Tourism last year contributed 8.39 per cent to Vietnam’s GDP. The government seeks to make the industry an economic spearhead. With visa waivers for several countries in Asia and Europe, the government expects to welcome around 20 million foreign visitors in 2020 and earn $35 billion in annual revenue, equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP, according to VNAT.