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Prices of overseas tours soar up during Christmas holidays

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

Prices of overseas tours soar up during Christmas holidays

QĐND – Saturday, December 04, 2010, 20:25 (GMT+7)

The demand for traveling during Christmas and Western New Year’s holiday are high because they fall on weekends, according to several travel agencies.

At present, short-day tours to Central Vietnam, Southeast Asian countries, and China have attracted a lot of visitors, though the price for such a tour has increased by $20 to $80 US.

According to Nguyen Thi Huyen, Deputy Director of Vietran Tour, most of the travelers have booked for Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong (China), and Thailand. The increased service charge and the shortage of accommodations during the end of the year made the fare for such a tour increase by $20 to $60 US compared to other times of the year.

At Vietran Tour, a four-day tour to Hong Kong charges $698 US; a five-day tour to Thailand costs $379 US, depending on the departure day. Tours to Singapore and Myanmar for four days costs $609 and $549 US, respectively.

A representative from Vietran Tour said that it might run out of tours during Christmas and Western New Year while airfares and hotel rooms are limited.

Meanwhile, Hanoi Redtour has increased its price for outbound tours by 3 to 5 percent, compared to normal days. Visitors have chosen Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Singapore, and Malaysia mostly due to big promotion programs there.

Hanoi Redtour is expected to take around 1,000 visitors to tour foreign countries and 500 visitors to tour around Vietnam. Its seven-day tour to Singapore and Malaysia charges $669 US. A four-day tour to Singapore and Hong Kong-Disneyland costs $599 and $679 US, respectively.

Also, on this occasion, Vietravel has launched 9-day tours around Europe and America combining it with a get-together with a family living abroad.

Meanwhile, prices for inbound tours seem not to have increased. According to Hanoi Redtour, a tour to DaNang-Hoi An, Lang Co for four days charges 4.6 million VND; Nha Trang-Dalat for five days costs 5.8 million VND; DaLat for four days costs 5.2 million VND.

During Christmas and Western New Year’s holidays, Fiditour offers a discount program for tours to Con Dao and Phu Quoc with a price of 2.2 million VND for 50 inbound tours each day.

Source: Vnexpress

Translated by Mai Huong

Source: QDND

MICE tourists expected to soar

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Medicine prices soar

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

US casualties in Afghanistan soar to record highs

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

 In a summer of suffering, America’s military death toll in Afghanistan is rising, with back-to-back record months for U.S. losses in the grinding conflict. All signs point to more bloodshed in the months ahead, straining the already shaky international support for the war.

Six more Americans were reported killed in fighting in the south — three Thursday and three Friday — pushing the U.S. death toll for July to a record 66 and surpassing June as the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly nine-year war.

U.S. officials confirmed the latest American deaths Friday but gave no further details. Five of the latest reported deaths were a result of hidden bombs — the insurgents’ weapon of choice — and the sixth to an armed attack, NATO said in statements.

U.S. commanders say American casualties are mounting because more troops are fighting — and the Taliban are stiffening resistance as NATO and Afghan forces challenge the insurgents in areas they can’t afford to give up without a fight.

“Recent months in Afghanistan have … seen tough fighting and tough casualties. This was expected,” the top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month. “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

That forecast is proving grimly accurate.

The month has brought a sharp increase in the tragic images of war — medics frantically seeking to stop the bleeding of a soldier who lost his leg in a bombing, fearful comrades huddled around a wounded trooper fighting for his life, the solemn scenes at Dover Air Force Bare in Delaware when shattered relatives come to receive the bodies of their loved ones.

After a dip in American deaths last spring following the February capture of the southern town of Marjah, U.S. fatalities have been rising — from 19 in April to 34 in May to 60 in June. Last month’s deaths for the entire NATO-led force reached a record 104, including the 60 Americans. This month’s coalition death count stands at 89, including the 66 Americans.


Some U.S. military officers speculated that the spring drop in fatalities was due in part to the fact that many Taliban fighters in the south — the main focus of NATO operations — were busy harvesting the annual opium poppy crop, a major source of funding for the insurgents.

As the harvest ended and the pace of battle accelerated, more American troops were streaming into the country as part of President Barack Obama’s decision last December to dispatch 30,000 reinforcements in a bid to turn back a resurgent Taliban.

American troop strength stands at about 95,000, and by the end of August the figure is expected to swell to 100,000 — three times the number in early 2009. Commanders say more boots on the ground inevitably means more casualties.

With the additional troops, U.S. commanders have been stepping up the fight against the insurgents in their longtime strongholds such as the Arghandab Valley, Panjwaii and Zhari — all on the outskirts of Kandahar city, the biggest urban area in the ethnic Pashtun south.

Much of the fighting in those areas involves brief but intense exchanges of fire. NATO and Afghan patrols also must maneuver through fields often littered with homemade bombs, which have become the biggest killer of pro-government forces.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins around Aug. 11, may provide some respite in the bloodletting because Taliban fighters and Afghan government forces will be fasting, although some commanders believe the insurgents will keep up the pace in areas where the coalition is trying to step up their own operations.

Fighting around Kandahar is part of a NATO strategy to secure the city, the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace where support for the insurgency runs deep. U.S. commanders have described Kandahar city as the key to controlling the Taliban’s southern heartland because of the city’s symbolic links to the insurgency.

As the U.S. and its allies step up pressure around Kandahar, Taliban resistance has also intensified in Helmand province to the west and in Zabul province to the east. Those three provinces account for roughly 70 percent of the U.S. deaths this month.

“We are going into places that have been significant support bases for the Taliban for the past several years, and they’re going to fight hard for those,” Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who directs day-to-day operations, said this month. “And that’s why we expect the casualties to go up.”

The rise in casualties is likely to erode support for the war in Washington and the capitals of the 45 other countries that provide troops — especially if NATO commanders are unable to show progress in curbing the Taliban. The Dutch are due to remove the last of their 1,600-member force at the end of this month, and Canada plans to remove its 2,700 troops next year.

Obama has promised to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July next year with the pace to be determined by conditions on the ground.

At the same time, there are signs that Afghan patience with the presence of thousands of foreign troops is running thin.

In the capital, Kabul, police fired weapons into the air Friday to disperse a crowd of angry Afghans who shouted “Death to America!”, hurled stones and set fire to two vehicles after an SUV, driven by U.S. contract employees, was involved in a traffic accident that killed four Afghans, according to the capital’s criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

The contractor, DynCorp International, confirmed that its employees, working on a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, were involved in an accident on the main road to the Kabul airport. In a statement, DynCorp said that when its employees got out of their vehicle, they and other DynCorp employees, who arrived at the scene to help, were attacked by the crowd, which burned their vehicles.

NATO and US soldiers are seen standing guard in Kabul

“Our condolences go out to the families of those who were killed or injured,” DynCorp said. “An investigation is under way.”

People at the scene claimed foreigners fired shots, killing and wounding Afghan civilians. DynCorp said the contractors fired no shots and that Afghan police helped move the contractors to safety away from the crowd. Hospital officials said the deaths and injuries were caused by the traffic accident.

Ahmad Jawid, who also was at the scene, asked: “Are we not Muslims? Are we not from Afghanistan? Infidels are here and they are ruling us. Why?”

Source: SGGP

Shell defends deep-water oil production, as profits soar

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 3:17 am

Royal Dutch Shell posted soaring profits on Thursday and defended deep-water oil production, arguing it has an “important role” to play despite the Gulf of Mexico disaster that rocked rival BP.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant reported a 15-percent jump in net profit to 4.39 billion dollars (3.38 billion euros) in the second quarter to June as it slashed costs and raised output.

Shell’s performance contrasts with that of BP, which on Tuesday posted a second-quarter loss of 16.9 billion dollars — the biggest-ever quarterly loss for a British company — after the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“This is a good performance from Shell, despite today’s challenging macro-economic conditions. We are on track for growth,” Shell chief executive Peter Voser said in a statement.

Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, speaks during a press conference in London in March 2010.

Voser also offered his sympathy to all those affected by the Gulf spill — the worst environmental disaster in US history — but insisted that there remained an “important role” for deep-water oil production.

“The BP … blow-out and the related Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a tragedy for everyone affected,” Voser said.

“We were all shocked by the loss of life there, and the on-going and wide-spread impacts from the spill.”

He added: “World-wide deep water production has an important role to play in the global energy supply equation, with potential for production growth with supply diversity, and sustained investment in technology, jobs and services.

“The recent announcement of Shell’s participation in a new, one billion dollar Gulf of Mexico oil spill containment system is an example of where we are working with governments and partners to improve the industry’s capabilities,” Voser added.

BP has been mauled by Washington since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and unleashing millions of gallons of crude into the sea and onto the US Gulf coast.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward on Tuesday said he will step down in October, while claiming he had been “demonised and vilified” over the spill.

It has taken more than three months to stem the flow, while up to four million barrels of crude have escaped.

The catastrophe has destroyed tourism, fishing and oil industries in the five US Gulf coast states and left BP facing soaring clean-up and compensation costs.

Shell on Thursday said that its net profit, when adjusted for the value of inventories of oil and gas, soared to 4.21 billion dollars in the three months to June.

This was above expectations of 4.02 billion dollars in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 12 analysts. Shell’s production meanwhile increased by five percent to 3.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

“We are delivering on our strategy. Shell’s cost programmes have delivered over 3.5 billion dollars of annualised underlying savings,” said Voser.

“Our investments have underpinned a five percent increase in oil and gas production for the quarter.”

In London trade, Shell’s ‘A’ shares closed 0.20 percent down at 1,783.50 pence on the FTSE 100 index of leading companies, which finished 0.11 percent lower at 5,313.95 points.

Source: SGGP

BP’s costs soar as storm delays oil containment

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2010 at 8:47 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Jun 29 (AFP) – BP’s costs soared as a major storm stymied efforts to double the amount of oil captured from a ruptured well deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical storm Alex, the first major storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, appeared set to sidestep the massive slick, but its strong winds made seas too rough to attach a third vessel to siphon oil from a containment cap some 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface.

AFP/Getty Images/File – Pete Duchock holds his daughter, Maddie Duchock, as they stand near oil residue

Rough seas could also push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands and has already shifted parts of the slick closer to sensitive areas in Florida and Louisiana, said US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the response efforts.

“Any kind of a surge or a storm would obviously exacerbate the oil further into marshes, which would cause problems, and we’re going to face that potential throughout the hurricane season,” he told reporters.

Even the threat of gale force winds — upward of 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour — will suffice to force drilling and containment ships to withdraw from the spill site some 52 miles (83 km) off the coast of Louisiana, Allen said.

Evacuations must begin 120 hours in advance, and operations will be shut down for about two weeks to “take down the equipment, move it off to a safe place, bring it back and reestablish drilling,” Allen said.

That would delay the completion of relief wells designed to permanently plug the well until September, and would drastically increase the flow of oil still gushing into the sea some 70 days after the deadly explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The current containment system is capturing nearly 25,000 of the estimated 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude gushing out of the ruptured well every day.

The now-delayed Helix Producer vessel was set to increase containment capacity to 40,000 to 50,000 barrels per day by early July.

Former US president Bill Clinton said blowing up the well “may become necessary” and expressed concern about the ultimate success of the two relief wells currently being drilled.

“This is a geological monster,” Clinton told CNN.

“You could stop that well, but what else might you do that might upset the ecostructure of the Gulf?”

But BP vice president Kent Wells said the energy giant has a “high degree of confidence in the relief wells.”

The first well, which stretches over 16,700 feet (5,090 meters), is now only 20 horizontal feet (six meters) away from the original well, Wells told reporters.

Engineers will drill parallel to the original well for about another 1,000 feet (305 meters) before trying to cut into it and cap it with heavy drilling fluids known as mud and concrete.

“I’m really confident in the team’s chance of being successful here,” Wells said.

BP earlier raised its costs over the oil spill to 2.65 billion dollars, an increase of about 300 million dollars over the weekend that means the energy firm is now forking out about four million dollars an hour.

The firm was also forced to deny reports its chief executive Tony Hayward was set to resign after weeks of taking flak for a string of gaffes and insensitive remarks about the disaster.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Alex gained strength as it moved into the southwestern Gulf after dumping heavy rains across the Yucatan peninsula, having killed at least 10 people in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

On its current path, Alex is projected to make landfall in Mexico late Wednesday, with most of its force avoiding the oil spill area in the northeastern Gulf off the Louisiana coast.

Alex, which already packed maximum sustained winds of 65 miles (100 km) an hour, was “gradually strengthening,” and is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

OPEC urged the United States to reconsider legal moves and ditch a ban on deepwater drilling slapped on the oil industry in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

Vice President Joe Biden heads to the region on Tuesday and is due to visit the New Orleans command center before traveling to the Florida panhandle.

Source: SGGP

Garment exports soar in first quarter

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Garment exports soar in first quarter

QĐND – Friday, April 16, 2010, 22:13 (GMT+7)

Garment exports are expected to reach the target of 10.5 billion USD this year, as growth of 12.3 percent in the first three months of this year suggests that the industry is on the path to recovery from the global recession.

Exports totalled 2.16 billion USD in the first quarter, according to the General Statistics Office.

Signs are positive for a growing number of orders in the second quarter, said Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) general director Le Tien Truong.

With the IMF forecasting global growth of over 2 percent this year, purchasing power has returned in such major markets as the US, Japan and EU, creating favourable conditions for the garment sector. Exports of jackets and shirts have increased both in terms of quantity and value to all three markets, especially to the US, with average prices rising by 2-3 percent compared to last year, according to Vinatex.

Clothing makers have been active in finding new markets in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe , Truong added.

Many garment makers have rushed to step up production, many having already received orders through the end of the third quarter and some even for the end of the year, confirmed the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).

The number of orders this year will certainly be higher than last year, said Vitas chairman Le Quoc An, and many exporters have found buyers willing to pay 10-15 percent more than before the economic downturn.

More favourable foreign exchange policies this year would help the association’s member companies expand production even more effectively, An added.

Garment makers have also been proactive in securing sources of imported materials, helping stabilise costs, said Truong and Vinatex has been promoting the use of domestic materials.

Vinatex deputy general director Le Trung Hai said the industry was already able to meet 25-35 percent of domestic fibre demand, and this could rise to 70 percent by 2011, once the Dinh Vu fibre factory in Hai Phong’s Dinh Vu Industrial Zone begins operations, with a capacity of 600 tonnes of polyester fibre per day.

The area under cotton cultivation nationwide last year reached 9,000ha, three times the figure in 2007, and would increase to 16,500ha this year, Hai said.

The garment industry is targeting exports of 16-18 billion USD per year by 2015, with more fashionable and higher value-added products, according to Vitas.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Temperatures set to soar over weekend

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:27 am

Vietnam will experience hot, dry weather with temperatures climbing to 37 degrees Celsius over the weekend, the National Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center has said.

A dried well in the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang (Photo: Thanh Nien)

Affected by a cold front, northern and central regions have recently been cool in the early morning and at night. However, the cold front will weaken over the weekend and a hot low-pressure zone from the west will move in, causing temperatures to increase to around 36-37 degrees Celsius.

The southeastern region, including Ho Chi Minh City, will continue seeing temperatures of around 37 degrees Celsius. The scorching conditions have led to a drop in water levels of several rivers in the area, allowing more seawater to penetrate inland.

The sweltering weather has also created a high danger of forest fires in the southern and Central Highlands regions.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Stocks soar to 18-month high

In Vietnam Economy on October 15, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Stocks soar to 18-month high

QĐND – Thursday, October 15, 2009, 20:14 (GMT+7)

Investor excitement heated up on the HCM Stock Exchange on Oct. 14 driving the VN-Index over 600 to its highest close since March 2008.

Picking up 2.67 percent on the day, the Index closed at 606.65 points on highly active trading worth a combined 4 trillion VND (224.7 million USD).

Volume reached 78.6 millions shares, with Sacombank returning to its place as most-active share, with 4.7 million traded.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index also pushed its way abut its own psychological barrier of 200, ending the session at 205.36 after an advance of 3.99 percent.

The northern market saw a volume of 55.1 million shares change hands, worth a total of 2.5 trillion VND (140.4 million USD), while Sai Gon-Hanoi Commercial bank (SHB) continued as the most-active share on a volume of 5.8 million.

Foreigner investors were net buyers on Oct. 14, as well , at a two-month-high net nearly 200 billion VND and a net volume of 3.2 million shares.

They bought most heavily into steel producer Hoa Phat Group (HPG), Vietcombank (VCB) and PetroVietnam Transportation (PVT) in HCM City , and PetroVietnam Technical Services (PVS), SHB and Kinh Bac Urban Development (KBC) in Hanoi.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND Bookmark & Share

Ostrich farms soar to new heights

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm

HCM CITY — Ostrich farming is developing rapidly in the country, the Department of Animal Husbandry has said.

There are 12,000 breeding ostriches on 56 farms situated in 40 provinces and cities.

In the central region alone, there are 16 farms that raise 8,911 of the flightless birds for meat.

Three of the farms are large and supply breeding birds, meat, and eggs to both the local and export markets.

The country’s largest ostrich-farming company is Khanh Viet Corporation (Khatoco) in Khanh Hoa Province which began life as a tourism company. Following a pilot project to breed the world’s largest birds, the director of the company found they adapted to the local weather and fetched big profits.

Khatoco then became a joint stock company farming ostriches. It breeds between 1,500 and 2,500 birds on its three farms and also has several processing plants.

Minh Hung Co Ltd in Da Nang has invested VND100 million (US$5,900) in building a 44-ha farm where it has 3,000 birds.

It is building another 50ha farm in Quang Nam Province’s Thang Binh District where it plans to raise 10,000 birds in co-operation with local farmers.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said, however, that the industry also faces many difficulties.

He said infrastructure and equipment remain backward, while the scale of production is not large enough.

To improve ostrich-farming, not only farm owners but also experts and managers have to work together, he said.

The industry should also co-operate with farmers to address the problems of labour and land.

“Developing a brand name for Vietnamese ostrich products is essential,” he said. —