The central coastal city of Nha Trang will hold several exciting cultural and sports activities during the 2015 Sea Festival, scheduled to take place from July 11-14.
The biennial event, the seventh of its kind since 2003, will involve a number of artistic, cultural and sporting events introduced to tourists for the first time, such as viewing coral under the sea bed, fish breeding at Hon Tam resort, catching clams and crafting accessories.
Additionally, the Khanh Hoa Salangane Nest Company inaugurated an eco-tourim complex on the Dong Tam salangane island on July 9.
On the island that is 20 minutes from Nha Trang port by boat, customers have a chance to visit swallow caves, fish, kayak, water-motor race and enjoy local specialties.
As one of the largest events in the city, the Sea Festival is part of efforts to preserve and promote regional and national cultural sea values.
A number of art troupes from the Republic of Korea, France, Japan, Russia and the US are set to participate in this year’s festival.
Nha Trang is located in the central province of Khanh Hoa, 440 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and around 1,300 kilometres from Hanoi.
Known for the beautiful Nha Trang Bay and friendly atmosphere, the city boasts white-sand coastline with warm clear waters throughout the year.
The sixth Sea Festival, held in June 2013, drew over 450,000 domestic and foreign visitors.
Hoi An opens first visitors’ centre
The central province of Quang Nam has officially launched its first visitor centre in the ancient Hoi An town to provide more assistance to tourists in this tourism hub.
This is the first tourism desk to have been built in Hoi An City.
The centre, which is situated at 47 Phan Chau Trinh Street, will help tourists with necessary information, maps, brochures or any request and complaints about the service as well as emergency or police.
Visitors can call the hotline 0510.3.666.33 or email: [email protected] or website quangnamtourism.com.vn for further information.
The centre is open every day of the week during working hours (8am-5pm).
Seminar on Vietnamese culture, tourism held in Uruguay
A seminar on Vietnamese culture and tourism was held at Uruguay republic university (UdelaR) on July 10, drawing the participation of about 500 lecturers and students.
Thailand’s PRD makes TV reports on Vietnamese culture, tourism Vietnamese culture featured in Paris concert Vietnamese culture shines in Czech Republic The event, jointly organised by the Vietnamese Embassy in Argentina and Uruguay, the UdelaR’s economy faculty, and several Uruguayan travel agencies, aimed to strengthen exchanges and understanding between the two peoples and promote the Vietnamese tourism in the South American region.
At the seminar, representatives from the Embassy gave participants an overview of Vietnam’s development and international integration, especially in the economic field.
Features related to the country’s history, culture, attractive tourism sites as well as heritages recognised by the UNESCO were also introduced.
Representatives from the UdelaR showed interests in cooperating with Vietnamese universities to bring their students to the Southeast Asian country for study on exchange.
On the occasion, a documentary on the Vietnam War was screened.
Hanoi strives to remain attractive to tourists
In recent years, Hanoi has been repeatedly selected as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region and the world by prestigious travel websites. The capital city is now working to maintain its image in the eyes of both domestic and foreign visitors.
Previously, Hanoi only utilised existing tourism resources which did not encourage visitors to return. In the past five years, the city has focused on diversifying tourist products as tourism has been a priority development sector.
Products have been upgraded including tours to intangible cultural heritage sites and ancient and trade villages.
New tours to the the culture-tourism village of Vietnamese ethnics in Son Tay town, Ba Vi national park, the Giong festival and Vietnam’s ancient capitals have been set up as well.
The tourism development plan until 2020 is expected to bring a new face to the city’s tourism, as a series of ideas on new tourist products are waiting to be realized.
Hanoi is speeding up turning the Ba Vi-Suoi Hai area into a national tourism centre. The municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently proposed building a 50 hectare Red River civilization centre in Tay Ho and Bac Tu Liem districts to introduce trade village product.
According to Director of the Hoa Binh Hotel Le Thi Bich Thuy, tourists pay attention to the attitude and behaviour of tour operators and locals.
She suggested Hanoi authorities step up communications to increase awareness and improve the capital’s image.
The city recently set up a unit to support tourists as a bid to improve its tourist environment. The unit has helped reduce the number of negative cases involving tourists, particularly foreigners.
Many training courses on communication and behaviour skills were organised for tour guides, hotel receptionists and drivers.
Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Truong Minh Tien said Hanoi is striving to maintain its position as one of Vietnam’s two major tourism centres and one of the region’s big tourism centres.
Summer festival time in Ba Na Mountains
A collection of summer festivals, titled Colour of Summer, has opened at Ba Na Hills Mountain resort in the Ba Na Mountains, 30km west of the central city of Da Nang.
It will run until August 31.
Organisers said tourists could join in the D’Amour Flower Festival at the resort’s flower garden. It will run from July 16-23 and include displays of calligraphy and portrait painting.
A Vine Festival will be held at Debay wine cellar, which is also part of the resort built 100 years ago. Tourists can taste wine and enjoy jazz-funk dances on the first floor of the cellar until July 11.
A street music performance will be held at the resort on Saturday evenings until August 15.
A band music contest will be held from August 9-10 at the resort.
Tourism sector urged to improve competitiveness
The chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has called on the tourism sector to seek effective measures to improve competitiveness and tap potential to achieve stronger growth.
Vu Tien Loc told a seminar on tourism development in Hanoi on Tuesday that the local tourism sector needs to have a clear roadmap for competitiveness enhancement in comparison with other countries in the ASEAN bloc.
Loc said last year the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) ranked Vietnam 16th among 184 with potential for long-term growth. This meant Vietnam’s tourism has huge potential and a competitive edge in the world.
However, why Vietnam has yet to become a destination for tourists is still a big question mark though there have been many policies to promote tourism growth as detailed in the Government’s Resolution 92/NQ-CP and the Prime Minister’s Directive 14, Loc said.
The number of international visitors to Vietnam is much lower than many other regional countries. International arrivals in Vietnam neared eight million last year while the number in Singapore was 15.1 million, Thailand 24.8 million and Malaysia 27.4 million.
Loc pointed out visa procedures are one of the many important factors for low international arrivals in a country. Vietnam offers visa exemptions for nationals of more than 20 countries while Singapore exempts citizens of 150 countries from entry visa, with unilateral visa exemptions for 82 of them. The respective figures are 155 and 85 for Malaysia and 61 and 49 for Thailand.
Therefore, visa is an important welcoming procedure for international visitors, Loc said and mentioned a story about a European family told by Kenneth Atkinson from the Tourism Working Group at the Vietnam Business Forum 2015 in Hanoi last month as a lesson for the local tourism sector.
At the forum, Atkinson said the European family of four planned to extend their Southeast Asia holiday to Vietnam but chose Thailand instead after discovering that the Vietnam visa fee would be equivalent to the cost of staying for two more nights in Thailand.
Loc said Atkinson commented that it was good if Vietnam could issue on-arrival visa for international visitors as Cambodia does. The neighboring country is said to organize tours better than Vietnam in terms of professionalism.
Loc said not only Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore but also Cambodia, Laos and even Myanmar have run more effective tourism promotional programs than those of Vietnam.
So Loc urged the local tourism sector to work out a specific roadmap to narrow its development gap with other ASEAN countries with a focus on improving the business environment and administrative procedures for the sector.
Loc cited projections of the World Tourism Organization and the WTTC as saying that international visitor arrivals in Vietnam could rise by 8-18% if the country eased visa requirements.
Loc proposed the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism ask the Prime Minister to consider unilateral visa exemptions for more countries, especially important markets like Australia, New Zealand, former Soviet Union nations and the signatory nations of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with Vietnam, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Vietnam-EU FTA.
These are major and potential source markets for the world tourism sector, Loc said.
From this month, Vietnam unilaterally offers visa exemptions for citizens of Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK and France if they stay no more than 15 days in Vietnam.
In addition to visa waivers for the 10 ASEAN countries, Vietnam unilaterally grants visa exemptions for passport holders of Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Belarus.
Foreign travelers are not required to apply for visa if they stay on Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang Province for a maximum of 30 days.
Loc said many ASEAN countries are upgrading standards for tourism products and services and jobs in the sector and working out programs for better regional linkages. Higher requirements are important for Vietnam to enhance the competitiveness of the local tourism sector.
Around 14,500 businesses (less than 3%) of the total number of enterprises in Vietnam are active in tourism. Loc said if favorable conditions are created for more companies to join tourism projects, they would help the tourism sector contribute more to the country’s economic growth and generate millions of new jobs for locals.