Hoi An wins 2013 Asian townscape awards





Hoi An ancient town in the central province of Quang Nam has won the 2013 Asian Townscape Awards given by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

The award ceremony is scheduled for November 20 in Japan to highlight and honour significant efforts made by Asian cities for the improvement, revitalisation and creation of a beautiful and harmonious townscape that is safe, sustainable and with respect to history and local culture.

Earlier this month, the world’s premier travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller named Hoi An as the second best city for tourists in Asia after Kyoto, Japan.

This year, the US online news site Huffington Post listed Hoi An as one of seven must-visit places in Vietnam, calling it as a hidden gem.

Hoi An was recognised as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. The ancient town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th-19th century.

Most of the buildings in the town are aligned along narrow lanes. They include many pagodas, temples and meeting houses related to the development of a port community.

Japanese news agency promotes Ha Long Bay





A Kyodo News Agency delegation led by its President Masaki Fukuyama made a fact-finding tour of Ha Long Bay – a world natural wonder- in Quang Ninh on November 3.

Secretary of Quang Ninh provincial Party Committee Pham Minh Chinh briefed the delegation on the province’s potential and socio-economic development advantages as well as Ha Long Bay’s nature and geology.

Masaki said he was very happy to visit the world natural wonder of Ha Long Bay and promote its landscape and value as well as the province’s advantage and potential in Kyodo task, helping Japanese investors to fully grasp information about Quang Ninh.

Established on November 1, 1945, Kyodo News Agency is non-profitable organisation with 56 editorial offices and 120 radio and television stations.

Since their establishment of relations in 1980, Kyodo and Vietnam News Agency (VNA) exchange free news and photos and cooperate in human resource training.

During their stay in Vietnam, the delegation will attend the opening ceremony of the Vietnam-Japan photo exhibition under a framework of activities marking the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

RoK works to attract more Vietnamese tourists

So far this year, the Korea Tourism Organisation representative office in Vietnam has been holding various conferences and joining exhibitions and marketing activities to attract more and more Vietnamese tourists.

Office chief representative Kang Sungghil further said that the government of the Republic of Korea is applying more open policies in favour of Vietnamese tourists such as reducing the visa fee and broadening the electronic visa application.

Vietnam creates a new market with huge potential such as a large population, the majority of which are young who are eager to travel, and an increasing per capita income, the official said, adding that his country is diversifying tourism products in anticipation of the imminent influx of tourists from Vietnam.

The number of tourists of the two countries visiting the other has seen a sharp increase over the past three years. Currently there are from 14 to 10 flights shuttling between the two countries everyday, and tourism companies in Vietnam said the booking of air tickets is rather difficult as the flights are always full.

Statistics show that tourists from the RoK to Vietnam last year numbered 700,000 while those taking the other direction were only 105,530.

SilkAir launches additional Da Nang-Singapore flights

Singapore-based SilkAir officially added four direct flights between Da Nang and Singapore on November 1.

SilkAir, which began operating in Da Nang in 2005, began with three weekly flights and has added four direct flights between Da Nang and Singapore via Siem Reap on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays weekly, while Singapore-Siem Reap-Da Nang-Singapore continues on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Separately, SilkAir flies between Hanoi and Singapore four times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

According to the airline, 31,000 passengers have taken flights weekly between the two cities over past 10 months of the year.

Viejet Air lands second Airbus A320 Sharklet

Vietjet Air will receive its second Airbus A320 Sharklet this afternoon at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCM City, making it one of the few airlines in Southeast Asia to add Airbus' latest design to its fleet.

To mark the occasion, the airline will offer 100,000 discounted tickets, starting from VND100,000 (US$4.76).

Tickets will be available from November 7-14 for flights departing between November 20 and April 20 next year, excluding public holidays.

Cruises bring tourists to central coastal destinations

The SuperStar Gemini cruise carried 1,300 passengers from Hong Kong to Da Nang's Tien Sa Port on Saturday beginning a visit the to Hue, Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary.

It is the second time that the cruise ship has brought tourists to the city and central coastal destinations this year.

Around 15,000 visitors, 50 per cent of them Chinese, will visit the central region via ships this month.

According the city's culture, sport and tourism department, the central city plans to launch direct flights between Da Nang and Kunming to meet increasing demand from Chinese tourists.

There are 10 chartered flights to the city at present, with one direct route to provinces and cities in China.

The city has hosted 2.5 million tourists, including 550,000 foreigners, in the last 10 months of this year.

Ninh Binh to host int’l conference on spiritual tourism





The first International Conference on Spiritual Tourism for Sustainable Development will be held in the northern province of Ninh Binh on November 21-22, according to Director of the provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department Lam Quang Nghia.

Jointly held by Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the provincial People’s Committee, the event will offer a chance for delegates to discuss matters related to tourism planning, management, conservation, and promotion of spiritual tourism products.

It will also help promote the tourism potentials of Vietnam in general and Ninh Binh province in particular.

Ninh Binh is home to several unique beautiful landscapes which were formed thousands years ago, such as the Van Long eco-tourism site, Cuc Phuong National Park and Tam Coc-Bich Dong.

Particularly, the Trang An complex is one of the province’s most attractive destinations. Dossier on the site is being submitted to the UNESCO for recognition as a world heritage in 2014.

When visiting Ninh Binh, visitors have a chance to tour many places of spiritual significance, including a national recognised historical site, the One Pillar Pagoda, and Yen Thanh communal house in the former imperial capital of Hoa Lu.

Head of the provincial Statistics Office Dinh The Thap said by the end of October, Ninh Binh welcomed around 4.18 million visitors, surpassing the yearly target and posting a year-on-year increase of 20.8 percent.

Hue relic complex serves 1.6 million visitors in ten months




By the end of October this year, the ancient imperial relic complex in Hue city welcomed nearly 1.61 million tourists with 742,605 foreign arrivals, earning 108 billion VND (five million USD).

With the revenue, the Hue Relic Conservation Centre has fulfilled 102.7 percent of the set annual target, two months ahead of schedule, said the centre’s director Phan Thanh Hai.

The achievement and be attributed to the centre’s active participation in tourism promotion forums, cooperation with travel agencies, tourism and hotel associations across the province and organisation of a range of tourism activities.

The centre conducted an array of promotional programmes in September on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s recognition of the Hue ancient imperial relic complex as a world cultural heritage site.

A promotional week will be launched from December 22-30 with various incentives such as free electric bus service from the citadel to the Hue Royal Antique Museum and free tour guides for each group of more than 15 visitors.

Holidaymakers will also enjoy a 50 percent reduction in ticket prices for performances of Nha nhac (Hue royal court music) during this period.-

Khanh Hoa welcomes nearly 13 million tourists

The central province of Khanh Hoa has welcomed nearly 13 million domestic and foreign tourists so far this year, mainly flocking to the coastal city of Nha Trang, according to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The figure includes over 546,000 overseas arrivals, up 25 percent against the same period last year.

The record figure is attributed to Nha Trang city, which has upgraded its infrastructure, diversified tourism products, improved services, maintained prices and ensured tourism security.

The province plans to open additional international air routes from Russia and Hong Kong to the local Cam Ranh airport, build an environmental management system, set up support centres for tourists, and intensify security work at key tourist sites.

It is expected to receive around 24,000 overseas tourists travelling by sea before the end of the year.-

VN targets 7.4 mln of int'l arrivals this year

Tourists traveling to Viet Nam in the past 10 months numbered 6.119 million, according to the General Statistics Office.

Of this, tourist arrivals for recreation reached more than 3.75 million, while those for business purpose were 1.023 million, for visiting relatives, 1.018 million and other reasons, 327,000 ones.

The number of visitors coming to Viet Nam in the years of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 was  3.747 million, 5.049 million, 5.25 million and 6.874 million, respectively, makin an average growth rate of 22.3% per year.

Viet Nam sets the goal of welcoming more than 7.4 million of travelers in 2013, which can help earn around US$7.9 billion in revenues, up 15.6% from 2012.

Direct Berlin-Hanoi flights scheduled for 2014

Germany and Vietnam are planning to open a direct air route connecting Berlin and Hanoi next year, heard a meeting between Berlin’s Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit and Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang held on Tuesday in Hanoi.

According to an announcement of the Ministry of Transport’s office, the two sides discussed issues involving cooperation in transport.

Regarding aviation, no direct flight connecting Berlin with Southeast Asian countries is currently being operated. Therefore, the opening of the Berlin-Hanoi air route can help Vietnam become a hub for passenger transport in the Southeast Asian region, according to the Berlin delegation.

If there are three flights from Berlin to Hanoi every week, the seat occupancy of such flights can reach up to 80%.

The Ministry of Transport has assigned Vietnam Airlines to study the opening of direct service to Berlin next year.

With regards railways, Germany and Vietnam have carried out projects modernizing the railway management center and building a metro line. Besides, both sides are cooperating in training those operating and maintaining the urban railway system.

* Airbus on Tuesday transferred an A320 Sharklet to VietJetAir. This model can save 4% fuel and reduce CO2 emission by over 1,000 tons each year.

The new aircraft raises VietJetAir’s fleet to ten and will help the carrier better serve the transport demand for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Wonder of nature in Phu Yen

Ghenh Da Dia in Tuy An District, Phu Yen Province is categorized as one of the natural wonders of Central Vietnam, as the rocky plate reef 50 meters wide and over 200 meters long is constituted by thousands of basalt columns. The reef was recognized as a national heritage site in 1998.

Ghenh Da Dia is a must-visit destination for tourists, as in addition to looking like a giant beehive arising from the turquoise waters; the area is also beautified by clean beaches and various fishing boats bobbing on the sea.

Ghenh Da Dia can be reached by driving or riding more than 30 kilometers from Tuy Hoa Town along National Highway 1 to Tuy An District. From there, you travel another ten more kilometers past paddy fields before you arrive at the reef.

Diamond Princess brings 2,500 tourists to Vietnam

The U.S. cruise ship Diamond Princess with 2,500 passengers on board arrived at Tan Cang-Cai Mep International Terminal in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province on Tuesday.

According to Viet Excursions, during the stay in Vietnam, tourists were taken to HCMC and the Mekong Delta while some flew to Cambodia. The ship left Ba Ria-Vung Tau on Tuesday for Singapore.

From now towards the year-end, Diamond Princess will take thousands of tourists to Vietnam every two weeks.

Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions, said that the firm arranges regular cruise ships from the U.S., Australia and the UK to Vietnam every month. Besides, Viet Excursions is offering a new route connecting tours from Ba Ria-Vung Tau and HCMC to Myanmar’s Yangon and taking tourists from Myanmar to HCMC, he added.

Develop Sa Dec village into flower city

The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap will concentrate on developing the flower village of Sa Dec into a flower city in the future.

Accordingly, the province plans to upgrade its infrastructure and apply scientific technology to better serve the work of preserving and packaging post-harvest flowers and diversifying products.

At a workshop on October 26, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Thanh Tai recommended building centralised manufacturing zones, organising flower fairs, and establishing groups of goods distributors for flower exports.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phan Chanh Duong, lecturer of Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme, shared his idea of turning Sa Dec into a resort city with various genres of tourism such as sightseeing tours through flower farms, restaurants serving local cuisines, and services along the flower roads, markets, and trade villages.

He also suggested building a centre for applied biology to study and create new plants, and at the same time providing local farmers with flower planting techniques and seeking ways to persuade domestic and foreign scientists and businesses to invest in the field.

Sa Dec is one of the three largest flower growing areas in the Mekong Delta with 355 ha. The area produces more than 2,000 varieties of flowers to supply to the domestic market and also export to Laos, Cambodia and China, with total turnover of more than 170 billion VND (8 million USD) each year.

VN, Japan to boost joint tourism

Viet Nam-Japan tourism co-operation would focus on exchanging visitors, providing technical support and developing human resources, said Nguyen Manh Cuong, deputy general director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.

In the fifth meeting of the Viet Nam-Japan Tourism Co-operation Committee last Friday, Cuong said Japan had announced that Viet Nam had been put in the country's list of strategic markets that Japanese visitors would travel to.

In Japan, there were many tourism promotion campaigns to lure Japanese people to come to Viet Nam's central region, especially tourism destinations in Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

The Japanese side also planned to open a direct flight to the region, which would be a driving force for Viet Nam to upgrade infrastructure to serve tourism development, Cuong added.

Chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Association (VITA) Vu The Binh said that the association had established two travel clubs in the South and the North to welcome Japanese tourists. At the same time, VITA would call for the most prestigious and professional travelling companies to take part in the campaign of bringing Vietnamese visitors to Japan.

Binh said he hoped with the co-operation between VITA and the Japan Association of Tourism, enterprises of the two countries would have more chances to join hands in developing tourism.

According to the General Statistics Office, Viet Nam welcomed over 6.1 million overseas arrivals in the past 10 months of 2013, up 10.4 per cent against the same period last year.

In the period, the number of Japanese tourists coming to Viet Nam reached 500,000, an increase of 5.6 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, in the first eight months of the year, Japan welcomed nearly 53,000 Vietnamese visitors, up by 56 per cent compared to the figure of 2012's corresponding period.

Viet Nam set the goal of welcoming more than 7.4 million travellers in 2013, which can help earn around US$7.9 billion in revenues, up 15.6 per cent from 2012.

Meanwhile Viet Nam and Japan have co-operated in seeking measures to implement an inter-governmental project on developing eco-cities in Viet Nam, Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Thanh Nghi has said.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed between the Ministry of Construction and Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism laid a foundation for both sides to accelerate the next steps of the project, he said, adding this was among activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Viet Nam-Japan diplomatic ties.

The MoU identifies the project's short, medium and long-term targets, co-operation methods and obligations of each side in providing information and technical assistance in building standards for eco-cities in Viet Nam, he said.

According to Nghi, the two sides also discussed the feasibility of the project in selected locations in four localities namely Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Binh Duong and HCM City .

They were scheduled to establish a joint working group in charge of the implementation of the project in 2014, he added.