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2.6 mln USD to for sustainable tourism in Quang Binh

In Vietnam Travel on March 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm




2.6 mln USD to for sustainable tourism in Quang Binh


QĐND – Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

Some 2.6 million USD from the “Greater Mekong Subregion Sustainable Tourism Development” project will be injected into the central province of Quang Binh to preserve and upgrade ecological tourism in the locality.


This is part of a five-year ADB-funded project, starting from 2009, to boost socio-economic development with focus on poverty reduction, infrastructure, heritage preservation in five provinces of Vietnam.


 Of the funding, over 2.1 million USD will be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the remaining, about 400,000 USD, will be reciprocal capital.


The project will concentrate on the preservation of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, which is home to two villages living in the core zone and six others in buffer zones, the project’s director, Le The Luc, said, adding that their livelihoods mainly depend on forestry that leads to the degradation of the whole park.


The investment will be spent to upgrade Phong Nha and Tien Son caves, use environmentally friendly materials like composite for making boats to reduce pollution while developing some services serving ecological tourism in other tourist sites.


Apart from setting up a database on local geography, ethnic minority groups and their traditional culture, the project will develop pastoral and community-based tourism to help improve earnings of people in buffer zones. Thus, more than 56,500 people are expected to directly or indirectly benefit from the project.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Parade program to promote tourism

In Vietnam Travel on March 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm




Parade program to promote tourism


QĐND – Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

PANO – A public ceremony to announce tourism in Thua Thien – Hue province in 2010 and the parade program “For tourism” was held on March 20th.


After the public ceremony, 5,000 local people and a vehicle group of 30 automobiles, 20 motorbikes, 100 cyclos and 250 bicycles participated in the parade for a green, clean, beautiful, attractive Hue city.


In 2010, there will be many events in the province, such as the 35th anniversary of the liberation of Thua Thien Hue, the 50th anniversary of  the establishment of the relationship among the three cities of Hanoi, Hue and Sai Gon and Hue festival. According to local officials, the parade is to open activities and celebrations in the build-up to national and local anniversaries as well as promote public awareness of environmental protection and tourism.


Translated by Thu Nguyen – Phuong Linh


Source: QDND

120 Japanese tourists visit Hoi An

In Vietnam Travel on March 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm




120 Japanese tourists visit Hoi An


QĐND – Monday, March 22, 2010, 21:37 (GMT+7)

The ancient town of Hoi An held a cultural night on March 20th to receive 120 tourists from Japan.


The Japanese tourists traveled to Vietnam on a direct flight between Japan and Da Nang and then were taken to Hoi An by Han River Tourism Company.


All Japanese visitors were very interested in the peaceful and glamorous night of the ancient town. They were drawn to the old architecture, flower garlands and colored lanterns casting colourful lights and Vietnamese traditional music performances. They took a lot of photos and became very surprised when they were taken to Cau pagoda with a Japanese-style bridge.


Deputy Director of the Hoi An Cultural Center, Nguyen Thi Nhung said that the number of international tourists to Hoi An is increasing and the center has so far received a number of contracts from tour organisations for tourists from Japan, Taiwan (China) and Germany.   


Source: TT


Translated by Thu Nguyen


Source: QDND

VASCO, SilkAir add more flights

In Vietnam Travel on March 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm




VASCO, SilkAir add more flights


QĐND – Monday, March 22, 2010, 21:38 (GMT+7)

Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO) announced that it will increase flights to 10 from currently 3 a week on the Ca Mau-Ho Chi Minh City route between April 1st to Oct 30th, 2010.


According to Vu Duc Bien, VASCO’s Sales Manager, the move paves the way for more flights, 14 a week, in the near future.


In Da Nang, Singapore’s SilkAir will add an additional flight from Singapore to the city on March 28th, bringing the number of flights a week to 4, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 


Since January 2005, SilkAir has opened three flights a week between Singapore and Da Nang.


Source: Tien Phong


Translated by Hoang Anh


Source: QDND

Exciting attractions not exciting

In Vietnam Travel on March 22, 2010 at 2:47 am




Exciting attractions not exciting


QĐND – Sunday, March 21, 2010, 21:33 (GMT+7)

Ho Chi Minh City has announced a list of “100 Excitements” to promote its image as a tourist destination, but many local expats found that their favorite places were not included.


“I do not know who made the list but it seems not to have been done by local expats. How can you forget the Caravelle rooftop [Saigon Saigon] bar?” said Christophe Lefebvre, an administrator of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (CCIFV).


“In the top-ten list for restaurants, there is no foreign cuisine mentioned. Strange!” he told Thanh Nien Weekly.


The city’s “100 Excitements” announced on February 25 included top-tens in each of ten categories: hotels, restaurants, souvenirs, entertainment venues, shopping, must-tastes, city attractions, coffee shops, city tours and events.


The selection was based on votes by local and foreign tourists over a three-month period, with a judging board from the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Department of Industry and Trade and tourism reporters overseeing the initiative.


However, many local expats said there were many notable “excitements” left off the list.


A US expat advisor of an NGO in Vietnam, who has been living in Vietnam for eight years and wanted to remain unnamed, said she felt that the Caravelle Hotel in downtown HCMC should be included in the list of ten hotels.


She also said Minh Long ceramics should have been mentioned in the souvenir category and bun thit nuong and bun bo hue in food category.


Jonathan Pincus, Dean of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, said everyone has their favorites but “the Café Terrace at Saigon Center is a favorite restaurant for many locals and tourists alike.”


“Lots of tourists like Lemongrass and Temple Club restaurants as well,” he added.


More to do


Many expats said tourism in the city could improve if pickpockets were eliminated, better tour guides were hired and more professional services were provided.


“Too many pickpockets and lack of tourist police,” Lefebvre lamented, adding that there should be English signboards to better guide foreign tourists.


The pickpocket problem was echoed by Pincus, saying “I suppose the biggest nuisance is the pickpockets, which seem to be everywhere these days. You have to watch your bag and wallet all the time in HCMC.”


However, he said most people enjoy their visit to HCMC. “The city is close to the Mekong Delta, which is full of interesting things to see. I always recommend the city and the delta to my international friends as a great place for a holiday,” he said.


“One complaint that people have is that Vietnam, not just HCMC, is more expensive than Thailand and Indonesia. Hotels rates are high… It is also very expensive to fly to Hong Kong and China from Vietnam,” he added.


The US NGO advisor mentioned earlier in the story said one problem is that tourist locations do not have tour guides able to offer good answers to her questions. She also said there were blatant mistakes in the translation of guidebooks given out at major tourist sites.


“Tour companies need to ensure that they can offer knowledgeable tour guides that are able to provide thoughtful answers to questions. I have joined several tours where tour guides appeared to be reading a script and could not answer what seemed to me to be very simple questions about the people/ history/location of interest,” she said.


She also advised that there be better tourism services for the elderly and disabled.


“Currently, very few sites/tours are friendly to people with mobility issues. Also, I think the public bathrooms and restaurants at tourism sites need to improve,” she said.


View the full “100 excitements” list online at http://hcmc100e.info


Source: VietNamNet/Thanh Nien


Source: QDND

Dream weavers

In Vietnam Travel on March 22, 2010 at 2:46 am




Dream weavers


QĐND – Sunday, March 21, 2010, 21:34 (GMT+7)


In the craft village of Quat Dong, women were traditionally judged on their ability to embroider – perhaps it’s no wonder girls start practicing while still in primary school.

As soon as school ends for the day, 10-year-old Nguyen Thi Khuyen rushes home to her house in Quat Dong village in Hanoi’s Thuong Tin district.


Khuyen comes from a family of embroiderers. She is now old enough to ply the family trade. “My grandmother says that I have to do this work, but I don’t know why,” says Khuyen, who has been weaving for five months.


As Khuyen puts her head down and toils away, her two younger brothers are also busy sweating – however, they’re playing hide-and-seek in the garden. Khuyen’s mother Nguyen Thi Yen knows it is hard for a child to understand why she must work while her brothers get to play.


“I have to teach her how to make brocades as I want her to become a good embroiderer in the future,” says Yen. “I remember when I was eight years old I started to learn to embroider. My mother made me do it, too. When I asked why, she said she had to learn it when she was seven, too!”


Her mother, Do Thi Tu, is now eighty-years-old. She claims that traditionally when a woman got married they had to know how to embroider. “Embroidering was regarded as a way to measure to a woman’s value a Quat Dong woman,” says Tu.
Quat Dong village is home to more than 450 households engaged in the craft. The cottage industry employs more than 1,000 labourers.


The village has been officially declared a “tourism-oriented craft village”. All through the village women sit in open courtyards and windows whole families embroidering red commemorative banners, portraits and household items.


Historical trade


The village is said to be a historical home of embroidery in Vietnam. A local resident, Le Cong Hanh (1606 – 1661), rose through the royal court and became an ambassador to China, where he learned the craft of embroidery. When he returned to his homeland he introduced the craft where it took root. The beauty and quality of the village’s products grew in reputation and became a favourite of royal mandarins and dignitaries in Thang Long (Hanoi today).


Although the skills spread across the country, works by Quat Dong’s artisans were considered the best.


In the beginning, Vietnamese used embroidery to add quotations from devotional works to pagoda curtains, to embellish ceremonial cloths and to decorate clothes from royalty. The first embroidery threads were silk, although cotton is now most frequently used.


Silk is very time-consuming to work with, but lasts for centuries. Ancient samples still remain in a few of Quat Dong’s pagodas. Over time frames were made from wood rather than bamboo. Needle technology changed from bone or wood to metal, and work became more pictorial rather than decorative – especially once the French began ordering pieces.


Between the 1960s and 1980s, under the collectivised system, villagers from Quat Dong produced tablecloths, bedspreads, sheets and pillowcases for export to other socialist nations. Later, under the policy of doi moi (renovation), Quat Dong villagers had to adapt to the open market. Now the village’s products are exported to countries such as Japan, Britain, France and the US.


Hoang Thi Khuong, an owner of a shop who embroiders with her feet due to disability, often welcomes Japanese, British and French tourists into her shop. “I mainly sell my products to Japanese customers. They demand very high quality work and will refuse an item, if there is just one very small flaw,” she says.


It will take Yen’s daughter 3-4 years of practice before she can produce an “acceptable” piece. In that time Khuyen will study painting, fine art and sculpture while practicing embroidery on pillows and blankets. Years from now, perhaps, she will teach her own daughter. 


Source: VietNamNet/Timeout


Source: QDND

Vietnam boosts tourism promotion

In Vietnam Travel on March 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm




Vietnam boosts tourism promotion


QĐND – Thursday, March 18, 2010, 20:45 (GMT+7)


Despite numerous difficulties and challenges, Vietnam’s tourism sector achieved remarkable results in 2009. The sector is currently enjoying numerous opportunities to attract even more visitors in 2010.


An “impressive” year


According to Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the economy in 2009 suffered due to the global financial crisis, resulting in high unemployment and a drop in tourism. Consequently, the world’s tourism sector experienced a sharp decrease in its growth.


Similarly, the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam has also dropped sharply since the end of 2008. Most hotels were not fully occupied, while local travel agents found it difficult to lure more visitors. Since 2003, the country’s tourism sector has faced huge difficulties and challenges.


However, thanks to strong support from the Government and relevant agencies at all levels, Vietnam’s tourism sector has gradually overcome its difficulties. Notably, the sector has benefited from the Government’s stimulus package. It has launched a promotion campaign entitled “Impressive Vietnam” in all provinces and cities nationwide, particularly in major tourist destinations.


Most tourism businesses have taken part in the promotion campaign by offering discounts for tours and tourism services. At present, the price for accommodation at three-to five-star hotels in Ho Chi Minh City – the country’s largest tourism centre – is 30 percent lower compared to May 2008.


The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, has cut prices by 60 percent for domestic flights from Hanoi to Hue, from Hanoi to Da Nang, from HCM City to Hue, and from HCM City to Da Nang.


A number of travel agents have also offered low-cost tours to visitors to Hue and other central provinces and cities following promotional programmes provided by Vietnam Airlines and hotels in the central region.


These moves have effectively promoted the development of the local tourism sector, thus helping to prevent further economic slowdown and restore the growth of international visitors to Vietnam.


In 2009, Vietnam welcomed 3.8 million foreign arrivals, a 10-percent drop from the previous year, with the lowest levels being seen in the first months of the year. Nevertheless, the total of domestic tourists in 2009 reached 25 million, up 20 percent, representing a positive sign for the local tourism sector. As a result, the sector’s total revenue last year was estimated at VND70,000 billion, a 9-percent increase over 2008.


Making progress


The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecast that the world tourism sector will rebound strongly in 2010 after the global financial crisis and natural disasters. The sector declined by 4 percent last year but will increase by 3-4 percent this year. In fact the recovery began in the fourth quarter of last year.


In Vietnam, together with the positive economic growth rate, the increase in the number of tourists in late 2009 and early 2010 is a good sign for the tourism sector.


According to the VNAT, in the first two months of this year, Vietnam received 900,000 foreign tourists, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent. These tourists mainly come from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, ASEAN and the Europe. This demonstrates that promotional and stimulus programmes began paying off.


“The number of domestic tourists rose sharply,” says Mr Tuan. In the first two months, the tourism sector attracted 10 million visitors.


In 2010, the tourism sector will gain further ground to raise its revenue as Vietnam undertakes the ASEAN presidency and organizes the grand celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi, the National Tourism Year, and the 50th anniversary of Vietnam’s tourism sector. Another important factor is that Vietnam’s position is increasingly rising in the international arena.


However, Vu The Binh, head of the Travel Department, says that it will be quite a demanding task for the tourism sector to achieve the goal of attracting 4.2 million foreign and 27-28 million domestic tourists set by the VNAT in its “Vietnam – your destination” stimulus programme for 2010. Especially as the Government has withdrawn its support policies and a series of challenges still lie ahead, such as unsustainable growth, fierce competition, unpredictable weather and natural disasters.


Mr Binh says that new issues in the stimulus programme will be implemented strictly to make strong progress this year and in the following years. Accordingly, there will be discount and promotion campaigns to combine tourism with trade.


In addition, improving the quality of service is very important in order to leave a deep impression on visitors and make them feel that Vietnam is a truly attractive destination. The more than 3 million overseas Vietnam are potential advertisers to lure more visitors to Vietnam if Vietnam devises suitable policies to get them involved in the stimulus campaign.


Mr Tuan says that it is very important to create a close link between tourism and other economic sectors as well as between provinces and businesses. This was manifested vividly in 2009. Despite the impact of the global financial crisis, with a concerted effort from Vietnam’s tourism sector significant results were still achieved, living up to the slogan “Impressive Vietnam”. There is high hope that Vietnam will reach the target set for 2010.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

Vietnam Airlines to launch Vinh-Hanoi route in May

In Vietnam Travel on March 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm




Vietnam Airlines to launch Vinh-Hanoi route in May


QĐND – Thursday, March 18, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

The central province of Nghe An’s People’s Committee and the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines have agreed to open an air service between Vinh city and Hanoi on May 19.


The launching of the route is necessary due to increasing demand for air travel in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces, and is expected to facilitate travelling and socio-economic development in the province and neighbouring areas.


Vietnam Airlines plans to increase the number of flights between Hanoi and Tuy Hoa city of central Phu Yen province from three to five a week from March 28.
A 79-seat Fokker aircraft will ply the route. Flight times have yet to be announced.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Tourists at loss to find local foods

In Vietnam Travel on March 17, 2010 at 2:49 am




Tourists at loss to find local foods


QĐND – Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 20:43 (GMT+7)

Visitors to HCM City usually find it hard to find local food specialties like candies to take back home as gifts due to the absence of tourist stores even though the country is a haven for tropical farm products.


“I don’t know where to buy locally made confectionery,” admitted Phan Quoc Viet, an English speaking tour guide with Sunrise Travel Agency.


He said he was embarrassed once when asked by guests to take them to a shop to buy candies.


“I know confectionery can be found at any local supermarket but the problem is they were looking for a store specialising in local brands, something not easy to find.”


“So I just recommended Ben Thanh Market.”


“Candies served in hotel lounges are mostly imported,” he explained.


The country exports fruits like rambutan, pine-apple, coconut, jackfruit, and banana to more than 60 countries and territories, according to the Institute of Southern Fruits.


But processors pay little attention to international visitors as potential customers despite the fact that many of them love to sample local tropical fruits or products made from them, like candies and cookies.


“I especially love cakes made of coconut or cassava which I eat right away because they taste exotic, delicious, and really Vietnamese,” a Japanese visitor who identified herself as just Shiubu said.


She would love to buy chocolate cookies which are tasty and much cheaper than in Japan, she said.


“Except cashew nuts and coffee, which are typical of the country, I don’t know what other specialties I should take home,” Italian tourist Laure Pausini said.


A German tourist who was travelling with his wife, said he was excited to see how coconut candies and rice cakes are hand-made in the Mekong Delta localities of Ben Tre and Can Tho.


“If these agricultural products are made easily accessible to tourists in cities, I think they will become very popular,” he added.


Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travel Agency, stressed the need to open specialised shops for tourists that sell a variety of local specialties.


“All goods there must be of high quality, safe, and produced by credible companies,” he said.


“We should make tourists spend more in the country.”


He said foreign guests are interested in desiccated fruits, coffee, and tea.


“If local travel agencies support the opening of a specialty store for international tourists, we will be more than happy to feature our products there,” Nguyen Anh Trung, deputy general director of Givral Bakery, said.


Source: VNA


 


Source: QDND

Tourist promotion to offer big discounts

In Vietnam Travel on March 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm




Tourist promotion to offer big discounts


QĐND – Saturday, March 13, 2010, 21:35 (GMT+7)

A campaign kicked off in Hanoi on March 12, offering deals for the months of August and September and discounts of between 10 and 30 percent on tourist services.


The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) expects that the “ Vietnam -Your Destination” programme will help it fulfil the yearly targets of 4.2 million foreign arrivals and 28 million domestic holidaymakers.


 The Head of the Travel Department under the VNAT, Vu The Binh, said the campaign will focus on overseas Vietnamese to encourage them to promote Vietnam ’s image.


So far, about 80 percent of foreign arrivals say they based their decision to travel to Vietnam on the recommendation of someone who had visited, Binh said, explaining the VNAT’s policy.


The “ Vietnam ’s Impression” campaign launched by the VNAT last year considerably contributed to increasing the hospitality industry’s revenues by 9 percent year-on-year to some 70 trillion VND.


The VNAT reported that foreign arrivals in Vietnam surged by 27.4 percent year-on-year to almost 880,000 in this year’s first two months.


China took the lead with the number of arrivals into Vietnam reaching some 137,000 or an increase of 90.8 percent compared to the corresponding period last year.


Other major markets such as the Republic of Korea and Japan also showed signs of a rally with the number of arrivals up by 24.4 percent and 5.8 percent year on year.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND