Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Car trips: the next step in regional tourism

HA NOI — Caravan tours in Viet Nam have become an international trademark and make a significant contributions to the development of the nation’s tourism industry, according to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism’s (VAT) Travel Department Director Vu The Binh.
A draft regulation to let foreigners tour Viet Nam in their own vehicles has been submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, Binh said, describing it as an effective framework for the development of an alternative tourism service.
If approved, the regulation should help raise the number of caravan arrivals in Viet Nam to 2,000 this year, equal to the total number of caravans that entered the country over the past three years, he said.
Meanwhile, the tourism industry is busy preparing for upcoming international tourism events while also planning a series of domestic tourism festivals such as the Year of Can Tho Tourism, and the Hue Festival.
It is hoped that national tourism bodies will be well prepped for the ASEAN Tourism Forum, and the first professional tourism fair TRAVEX, being held in Viet Nam for the first time in early 2009.
In order to augment overseas promotions, he said, the tourism administration also plans to take part in international tourism fairs in Japan, Thailand, France, the US, China, Cambodia, and the UK later in the year.
In addition to developing tourism products leveraging the Viet Nam brand name, the industry will organise conferences to help local tour companies enhance their competitiveness.
Furthermore, the sector will also implement strategies to develop tourism by 2020 with a vision towards 2030. Specific goals include a project to promote tourism activities on islands and along the coastline, develop tourism in the Hong (Red) River Delta, and adequately prepare for the United Nations Day of Vesak (the Buddha’s birthday) in mid-May.
The nation welcomed over 1.28 million international holidaymakers in the first quarter of the year, a year-on-year increase of 15.7 per cent.
While the number of Thai visitors rose by 34.5 per cent, followed by Malaysia and Singapore, the number of visitors from Japan, the Republic of Korea and western countries fell.
HCM City took the lead in attracting international tourists with revenue of VND6.7 trillion (US$419 million) in the first three months of the year, up 38 per cent against the same period last year, followed by Ha Noi, Quang Nam, Lam Dong, Hai Phong and Can Tho. — VNS
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