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Over 20 countries to join int'l tourism fair in VN

 Travel companies from 22 countries and territories have registered to participate in an international tourism fair - Vietnam International Travel Mart - to take place in Hanoi from April 3-6.

Over 20 countries to join int'l tourism fair in VN

Travel companies from 22 countries and territories have registered to participate in an international tourism fair - Vietnam International Travel Mart - to take place in Hanoi from April 3-6.

VITM 2014, the second of its kind, has received registrations of travel operators from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan (China), Hong Kong (China), China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia and Indonesia.

It has also got the nod from companies in Russia, Germany, France, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A total of 659 businesses will take part in the fair, an increase of 25% compared to VITM 2013, according to organisers, the Vietnam Tourism Association, the Vietnam National Tourism Administration, and the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

They will showcase tourism products and services on 499 stands, including 150 reserved for foreign travel companies.

The Republic of Korea plans to present their products and services on 78 stands, while Japan has registered to display on 17 stands.

A number of foreign countries such as the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Greece will hold press conferences to introduce their tourist destinations.

Conferences, seminars and forums on tourism will also be held during the four-day event.

HCM City fair marks decade of growth

The 10th HCM City Tourism Fair themed "Ten years of growth and development" will be held from March 27 to 30 at the 23 September Park in District 1. The aim of the fair is to promote the domestic travel industry.

The Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 39 cities and provinces, along with 45 travel agents, hotels and restaurants, will be showcasing what Viet Nam has to offer at 160 booths, according to organisers.

The highlight of the event will be Travel Mart, a series of tourism promotion products and special tours, but it will also feature a ceremony to honour prestigious tourist trademarks alongside a photography exhibition featuring some of the country's most spectacular natural landscapes. The event is expecting to attract 300,000 visitors.

Lufthansa airlines suspends flights to Vietnam

Lufthansa German Airlines has announced its suspension of flights to Ho Chi Minh City as from March 25 after 23 years operating in Vietnam.

Lufthansa representative office in Vietnam will also close within the next few days. However, Lufthansa‘s sale service will continue to operate as normal and provide tickets for customers on air routes from Bangkok (Thailand) and Singapore to Germany.

Vo Huy Cuong, Deputy Head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said Lufthansa announced its suspension of flights to Vietnam two weeks ago.

“The German airlines cited fleet restructuring as the primary reason leading up to its decision,” he added.

It’s hard to evaluate the efficiency of Lufthansa via HCM City-Germany route, Cuong said, adding that the national flag carrier - Vietnam Airlines – is effectively exploiting the route.

“Vietnam Airlines even has plans to increase flights to Germany,” he noted.

Russia-potential market for Vietnam tourism

Promoting sustainable tourism is the thrust of a programme launched by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in Moscow on March 19.

At the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to Russia Pham Xuan Son spoke glowingly of the programme and its efficacy in promoting tourism in Vietnam.

The ambassador recounted tourism development in Vietnam in recent times, pinpointing with detailed accuracy the improvement of infrastructure and services.

"Vietnam granted a 15-day visa exemption to Russian visitors in 2009, resulting in an increasing number of Russian visitors travelling to Vietnam,” he said.

“As of March 11, foreigners who travel to Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang province will benefit from a new 30-day visa exemption,” he announced.

Phu Quoc is one of Vietnam’s major tourist destinations for Russians. Its air terminal welcomed the first Russian flight in February 2014, bringing 250 Russian visitors to the island.

Deputy Director General of VNAT Nguyen Quoc Hung emphasized that Vietnam considers Russia one of its key tourism markets and that more Russian visitors know Vietnam through Russian travel agencies.

Vietnam Airlines representatives introduced its incentives for Russian tourists travelling to Vietnam, noting the airline is increasing the frequency of flights to attractive destinations in Vietnam.

The number of Russian tourists to Vietnam has increased dramatically over the years, and it is expected to rise 350,000 in 2015.

New tourism products planned

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province is drafting plans to link up professional art troupes with travel companies as it strives to create new tourism products.

It plans a cultural gala on April 4 featuring traditional folk music like dan ca tai tu (amateur music), cai luong (reformed theatre), cheo (traditional operetta) and water puppetry.

Travel companies will be invited to watch the performances so that they can include them in their tour itineraries.

Quang Ninh to develop Co To Island

The northern province of Quang Ninh plans to develop its island district of Co To into a national eco-tourism destination as part of the Cat Ba-Ha Long-Van Don- Mong Cai-Tra Co tourism circuit.

The province will seek investment and have the needed infrastructure in place by 2015, especially for connecting the island with the mainland, officials said. The island will also have electricity, water and telecommunication links.

The province plans to focus on developing high-quality ecotourism in the 2015-20 period. It expects to attract 100,000 visitors, including 5,000-6,000 foreigners, to Co To every year.

Quang Nam fetes beach tourism

The Tam Thanh Beach Tourism Week will be held from June 13-15 at Ha Thanh 1 Beach in Tam Ky city, Quang Nam Province.

It's opening ceremony will all be broadcast live by local radio and television stations.

There will be art performances, a painting and photo exhibition, local food and crafts promotion, beach football, volleyball, kite flying, boat and bicycle races, martial arts, and other local folk games.

The event aims to promote beach tourism, making Tam Thanh an attractive destination; as also raise awareness of preserving local culture and heritage.

Da Nang in Agoda's Top 10 list

Viet Nam's central coastal city of Da Nang has been listed among Asia's Top 10 new destinations this year at Agoda.com, the hotel booking website and a part of the Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group.

Agoda describes Da Nang as a major port city and the gateway to many of central Viet Nam's attractions.

"Nearby, UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as My Son and the lovely town of Hoi An are major draws. Visitors can hike in the lush Marble Mountains, surf in the beach, explore caves, visit museums, and partake in excellent Vietnamese cuisine," it says.

The list was finalised by Agoda's editorial team after studying complex booking patterns, reading customer reviews, and working closely with its hotel teams on the ground.

Other destinations on the list include Kota Kinabalu (Sabah, Malaysia), Mandalay (Myanmar), Kenting (Taiwan), Okinawa (Japan), Lombok (Indonesia), Kaohsiung (Taiwan), and Perth (Australia).

Tourists’ demands surveyed at key destinations

Surveys on demand of visitors are being conducted in five key destinations in Vietnam, aiming at increasing the quality of tourism products and services and helping build the sector’s development plans and better destination management.

The five destinations under the survey are Sa Pa town in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai, Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province and the three central localities of Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang and Quang Nam.

As many as 1,500 visitors, including 750 foreigners, are invited to answer a questionnaire on satisfaction, demand and expectations for their trip.

The survey also cover interviews with related offices, including the Tourism Information Centre under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the localities’ Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism and management boards of tourist sites, on information about tourism products at each destination and their surveying work.

The survey, part of the Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme funded by the European Union, will end on April 17.

Based on results, the EU project will provide assistance for the localities in product development orientations, contributing to intensifying sustainable and responsible tourism in Vietnam.-

Travel firms put on Japan cherry blossom tours

Many travel firms in HCMC are offering Japan cherry blossom tours with prices starting from VND35 million a guest.

These tours normally last four to seven days and take place in late March and early April, during which cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Tourists will be taken to major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Tour operators have reported a pickup in bookings for cherry blossom tours this year, which is partly credited to the loosened visa policy for Vietnamese tourists.

A communications executive at TST Tourist told the Daily that the firm has got bookings from 20 groups of 20 to 35, up around 40% from a year ago. New bookings are still coming in, he added.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, said numbers of tourist groups and tourists buying Japan tours have quadrupled, with each group having over 30 people.

At Vietravel, Nguyen Minh Man, a communications executive said, bookings for cherry blossom tours of Japan were opened three months ago and the tours are now full. This year, 2,500 tourists have bought Japan tours at Vietravel, up 25%.

Meanwhile, TransViet will arrange Japan tours for 18 groups totaling over 400 tourists this year, double the same period last year.

Pham Thien Vu, director of ITE Service, said demand for cherry blossom tours has soared sharply this year, especially between March 20 and April 15. As a result, their prices have inched up.

“Arranging Japan tours in the peak season is not easy because of higher service fees in Japan. The current room rate at two-star hotels may amount to US$350-400 per room,” Vu said.

Tourists can also buy tours to South Korea to view cherry blossoms at lower prices, between VND17 million and VND30 million per person.

In addition to cherry blossoms, travel firms like Saigontourist, Fiditour, Vietravel and TST Tourist also have tours in which tourists have the opportunity to view wisteria and nemophila flowers in April and May at a minimum price of VND34 million.

To attract more tourists from Vietnam, Japan decided last July to offer multiple-entry visa for Vietnamese.

Saigontourist offers new tours in April

Saigontourist Travel Service Company has launched a slew of fresh tours for travelers to attend the Hung Kings Death Anniversary in the northern province of Phu Tho and Hue Festival 2014 in the former imperial capital of Hue.

These tours depart from HCMC with their prices unchanged from normal days.

A four-day tour to Hanoi-Hung Kings Temple-Ha Long Bay costs from VND4.8 million and departs on April 8, 10, 12 and 15. In this tour, travelers will spend a full day at Hung Kings Temple visiting Hung Kings Museum, three shrines and Hung Kings Tombs. In Hanoi, tourists will visit the Mausoleum of President Ho Chi Minh, Ngoc Son Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda and the famous Temple of Literature. Then, in Ha Long, they will take a boat cruise in the World Heritage-listed Halong Bay and go shopping in Hon Gai Town in Quang Ninh Province.

Meanwhile, two tours to the central region will take in Hue Festival 2014 and renowned destinations. A four-day tour to Danang-Hue-Hoi An-Thien Duong Cave in Quang Binh Province is priced at VND4.05 million or higher and departs on April 12, 14 and 16. And a four-day tour to Hue-Danang-Hoi An-Ba Na Hills Resort costs VND4.2 million and departs on April 12.

These two tours will allow tourists to attend the opening ceremony of Hue Festival 2014 and enjoy many festivities such as a royal court festival, the palace night, Trinh Cong Son music show, Vietnamese sound performance and an ao dai (Vietnamese long dress) fashion show. Apart from Hue Festival 2014, travelers can also visit World Heritage sites, swim in the beach and do some mountain trekking.

The prices for these tours do not include airfares.

Hue Festival 2014 slated for April 12 to 14 comprises cultural and artistic performances by more than 60 art troupes from 30 countries and territories.

Tour prices include a VND10-million travel insurance coverage. Tourists can visit www.dulichtietkiem.com to have a chance to win tours to Japan or Abu Dhabi in Dubai.

Saigontourist Travel Service Company is located at 45 Le Thanh Ton Street in HCMC’s District 1, tel: 08 3827 9279, email: info@saigontourist.net, www.saigontourist.net.

Beautiful Mai Chau on the go

Mai Chau valley in the northern upland province of Hoa Binh is a must-see place for visitors to the province. From Hanoi, tourists are advised to take Highway 6 to Xuan Mai Town and then Hoa Binh City. They should pass the 12-km Cun slope to get to Cao Phong and Tan Lac districts before arriving in Mai Chau Valley.

On the way to Mai Chau, people can admire local people’s daily activities and beautiful landscapes in mist.

Mai Chau is a small town with no luxury accommodation. Tourists who come in groups of 40 to 60 people should rent a stilt house with blankets, mattress, fan, TV and karaoke. They can order meals with the house’s owner. Some recommended dishes are sticky rice cooked in bamboo sticks served with chicken, local pork, steamed fish and can wine.

For leisure activities, travelers can try camping by a fire with a bamboo dance and take photos in brocade costumes of ethnic people.

Source: VNS/SGT/SGGP/VNA/VOV

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