Vietnam's tourism industry will be promoted strongly on social networks, smart phones and the internet under the National Tourism Promotion Programme for 2013-20 that has just been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

A database that serves tourism promotion and the development of electronic publications, promotion portals and digital tourism transactions are also included in the programme.

Tourism authorities will engage in electronic marketing to introduce the nation's major tourist attractions, increase the number of visitors and increase the length of tourists' stay and spending in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Tuan, chief of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said promoting tourism via the Internet and on social networks is a good way to meet future challenges.

Tuan said it was important to make use of the advantages offered by new technologies, especially the internet and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, to promote tourism.

From now until 2020, Vietnam will continue to advertise on foreign TV channels, carry out familiarisation trips for international media agencies, attend international travel expos and organise promotion programmes overseas.

Under the national programme, apart from an overall increase in overseas tourism promotion activities, there will be particular focus on three or four programmes in key markets like Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North America, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

In addition, the country will host at least one programme a year in potential markets like South Asia and the Middle East.

The national tourism authority plans additional measures to boost the industry, including the establishment of tourism support centres across the nation. These centres will have hotline numbers to provide tourism-related information and provide other services to help visitors.

In another effort to improve local conditions for visitors, a new Government decree stipulates fines of 1-3 million VND (50-150 USD), on any tourism and services company that causes trouble for tourists.

The number of international visitors to Vietnam reached 6.2 million in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 10.4 percent over the same period last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

The country looks to welcome about 7.4 million international tourists by the end of this year.