Students take part in Eco Learning programme
Secondary school students from Hoi An and Duy Xuyen in Quang Nam Province will take part in an Eco Learning programme today at the My Son Sanctuary, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
They will visit the site and learn about the variety of architectural designs of monuments built between the 7th and 13th centuries, also look at the cultural remains of the Cham Pa Kingdom and conservation efforts being made to preserve the site.
An Eco Picture Diary Contest will also be organised for students to describe their learning experiences in pictures, aiming to stimulate their imaginations and creativity.
Co-organised by Panasonic Vietnam and the UNESCO Office in Ha Noi, the programme aims to raise local residents’ awareness of protecting their treasured heritage site that has been recognised as having Outstanding Universal Value on the World Heritage List since 1999.
Additional flights will increase tourism in Mekong Delta
In the current context, if the government wants to boost tourism in the Mekong Delta, localities must coordinate to increase quality services and along with that more flights must be added to satisfy the increasing demand of holidaymakers.
Recently, the Mekong Delta Region has upgraded the international airport at Can Tho, Phu Quoc, and completed the CanTho Bridge, as well as tourist attractions and parks such as Ho Nam tourist area in Bac Lieu Province, Nine Dragon in Vinh Long Province and restaurants and hotels in Can Tho City. Besides this, the region is encouraging various enterprises to invest in the tourism industry.
The Mekong Delta Tourism Association has signed a cooperation agreement with Tourism Associations of Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi to organize a series of seminars to discuss ways to promote tourism in the region.
Thanks to their concerted efforts, visitors to the region have increased year-on-year.
However, due to the present economic crisis, visitors to the region in the first four months of the year touched only 2.4 million, a decrease of 5.6 percent compared to the same period last year.
Benoit Perdu, director of TransMekong, said at a seminar that the government should open more flights on the Da Nang-Can Tho route as 30 percent of foreign tourists or around 200,000 people a year want to fly to that area. If more flights are added, then people will extend their stay in the Mekong Delta for longer periods and this region will then become one of the main tourist destinations of the country, he said.
In 2012, the region attracted more than 19.4 million visitors and earned revenue of upto VND4.3 trillion ($206,340,000) from tourism-related activities, an increase of 23.2 percent from the year before.
My Son Sanctuary to display G tower
The World Heritage site My Son Sanctuary will open its G tower to the public and launch a room of artifacts collected from the tower.
The G tower is a unique model for Champa architecture and decoration. The restoration of the tower has been carried out since 1999 to save it from the risk of collapse. After 14 years experts have helped restore the tower’s foot and top to their origins. Debris and artifacts collected from the excavation are arranged in an exhibition room in the site where tourists can admire the building techniques of Champa people.
The restoration is a collaboration of experts from UNESCO, Italy, Heritage Preserve Institute, People’s Committee of Quang Nam Province, local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the management board of My Son Sanctuary.
The tower’s opening also marks the Quang Nam Festival-A heritage journey from June 21-26.
Spiritual park inaugurated in HCM City
The Phuc An Vien Cultural-Spiritual Park, phase one, was inaugurated at District 9 of Ho Chi Minh City on June 22, to serve as a new model of cemetery for the nation’s biggest city.
The over 800 billion VND (38 million USD) park covers an area of 18 hectares. It is a combination of separated functional sections, including a temple, a lake and greenery area, a crematorium, a cemetery for nearly 1,400 graves, and a storage facility for cremated ash capable of housing 100,000 ash urns.
The park is also divided into numerous zones for different religions.
The park is a part of the city’s plan to develop a system of modern cemetery to cater to the demand of citizens while improving urban landscape and environmental protection.-
South Korea targets Vietnam as potential tourism customer
The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) on June 21 held a program to introduce various Korean tourist destination sites to various travel agencies in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Mr. Kang Sungghil, Chief Representative of KTO in Vietnam, as compared to other countries in the ASEAN region, the number of Vietnamese tourists to Korea is limited.
However, Korea appreciates that Vietnam has a large population and Vietnamese people like to travel, so Vietnam can be a future potential customer for Korea.
In 2012, Korea welcomed eleven million international travelers, which included 106,000 Vietnamese visitors. Korean tourists to Vietnam also reached 700,000. In 2013 alone, about 45,000 Vietnamese visitors have traveled to Korea in the first five months.
Earlier, in Ho Chi Minh City, the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Bureau held advertising campaigns to introduce Malaysia Tourism for 2014.
During the event, Malaysia Tourism introduced many tourist destinations and tourism support polices of the Malaysian Government to Vietnamese partners..
Quang Nam Heritage Festival kicks off
The event introduces to visitors the world’s intangible cultural heritage sites as well as boosts tourism in Central Vietnam. The festival offers many cultural activities such as art performances and sports activities; exhibitions on natural and cultural heritage of Vietnam and ASEAN countries; workshops on cultural heritage conservation as well as tourism promotion and investment opportunities in the region.
In 1999, Hoi An ancient town and My Son relic were both recognized as UNESCO heritage sites.
At the Festival, organizers announced that the Be Thui Cau Mong and Quang Noodles will be set up for national and Asian records.
Representatives of the Asia Book of Records have recognized Quang Noodle as one of 12 Vietnamese dishes to meet Asian cuisine standards and Vietnam’s Record Organization announced Be Thui Cau Mong as Vietnam’s best dish.
Ha Tinh Province celebrates spectacular Fishing Festival
On the First Day of May on the Lunar Calendar every year, a spectacular Fishing Festival is held in Xuan Vien Commune in Nghi Xuan District in the central province of Ha Tinh.
At the crack of dawn, thousands of people from children to the elderly converge from all parts of the province to the Thuong Luong area or Vuc Lagoon to fish with various fishing tools, namely, fishing-baskets, lift nets and fishing-rods.
Some people who don’t participate in catching fish just stand on shore and cheer the others as they fish.
At 6.15 am, when call to fish begins, people rush towards the Vuc Lagoon followed by loud cheers from people on shore. Every time a person catches a big fish, they receive a big hand from other participants.
According to the elderly people of the commune, residents are not allowed to catch fish in the lagoon all year round except on this particular festive day. This custom dates back to ancient times when people could only catch fish at night time, but now this has moved as day time occasion.
This is an important and indigenous cultural feature of Xuan Vien in which residents pray for luck and prosperity for every household in the commune.
Central coastal region strengthens international connectivity
Representatives from localities and the diplomatic corps met for a June 22 conference in the ancient town of Hoi An city in Quang Nam province to discuss ways to develop international tourism and boost cooperation towards sustainable green growth.
The attendees also included ambassadors, consul generals and representatives from foreign organizations and nine provinces in the coastal central region.
Delegates shared practical experiences and strategic orientations in socio-economic development and environmental protection, and discussed developing and effectively utilizing human resources.
Vietnam is a nation with an abundant supply of hard working, low cost labor. However, in order to meet international standards, localities and international cooperation organizations should coordinate closely to develop, train, manage and employ laborers effectively, they emphasized.
The Vietnamese economy is facing difficulties in the current economic downturn and sustainable socio-economic development is now a top priority of most localities.
To achieve this target, localities should review their socio-economic plans, identify key projects, seize opportunities and access foreign resources.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Nga, said that the central coastal region has great potential for economic development and the conference offers provinces and cities in the region the opportunity to share experiences and promote Vietnam’s image to international friends.
Moroccan ambassador to Vietnam El Houcine Fardani noted that Quang Nam has numerous cultural heritage sites such as the My Son sanctuary, Hoi An ancient town and the Cu Lao Cham Biosphere Reserve that have become internationally known through various festivals.
This will help localities to share experiences and seek investment and cooperation from international organizations to boost their economies in the context of international integration.
Travel firm fined for leaving 700 tourists stranded in Thailand
The HCM City-based company, Travel Life, will be fined VND80 million (USD3,800) for leaving 701 visitors in Thailand, said the Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Vu Xuan Thanh.
The 701 tourists were among 3,000 Herbalife agents who had travelled to Bangkok for a company seminar and tour scheduled from June 12-18.
The travellers were left stuck in Thailand because of a dispute between a Vietnamese travel company and its Thai partner.
All of the 701 tourists who had booked trips with Travel Life were refused any services upon arriving to the airport.
The company said that Travel Life had paid only 30% of the fees that were agreed upon in the tour package contract, and the accommodation of so many passengers was not feasible considering the money paid.
Nguyenh Thanh Tai, one of the passengers, said he, along with other passengers, paid VND6.6 million (USD314.2) each, inclusive of meals and accommodation for their stay in Thailand.
One passenger even cited another as having being threatened with death if they sought out the help of the Vietnamese Embassy.
According to HCM City authorities, Travel Life is not licensed to operate foreign tours, only domestic ones. There are also issues with the company’s insurance registration of their customers.
An inspection team from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism visited the Travel Life office, but the director, Nguyen Thi Kim Khanh, was not there.
According to Vietnam News Agency, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has announced that it would strengthen management over the operation of all travel firms in the country.
Nguyen Huu Tho, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the Travel Life’s violation had left a negative impression of the country’s tourism sector.
Vo Anh Tai, Chairman of the HCM City Travel Association, who is also the General Director of Saigontourist, said that the problem of bogus travel firms is increasing.
Tai has asked all concerned authorities to strictly punish any travel companies that cheat customers.
Can Tho to set up its tourism brand
Being the tourist hub in the Mekong Delta River Region, the potential of the tourism sector of Can Tho City has not developed as it should be.
With many tourist destinations, such as Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets, Khuong and Au sand dunes and Ninh Kieu wharf, last year, Can Tho City drew more than 1 million visitors, including 200,000 foreigners, earning VND 851 billion.
In the last 3 years (2010-2012), the city gradually diversified its tourism products and worked jointly with neighbouring localities to popularize and broaden the tourism market.
For example, the Can Tho City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has associated with the City’s Trade, Investment and Tourism Promotion Centre to help Phong Dien district design an eco-tourism product and help local farmers run eco-friendly tourism business in their own orchards.
In addition, the department also cooperated with the People’s Committee of Cai Rang district to develop Cai Rang floating market to ensure its specific characteristics and traffic safety.
Despite its efforts, Can Tho City’s tourism development remains modest as compared to other areas. According to Mr. Pham Minh Sang, Director of My Khanh Joint Stock Company, authorities at all levels should create relevant policies and pour more capital into tourist localities, including the My Khanh Tourist Village – one of the most attractive sites in Can Tho City which provides homestay tours for both Vietnamese and foreign tourists. Meanwhile, tourism businesses should effectively use capital to invest in tourism infrastructure and develop craft villages to attract more visitors.
Another problem facing Can Tho City’s tourism sector is the shortage of human resources, especially professional tourism staff. At present, only 40 per cent of tourism agents in the city have undergone proper training courses and only 33 per cent of them have certificates of different majors. This poses a great difficulty for the city’s tourism development.
Mr. Nguyen Hoang On, Head of Department for Culture of Phong Dien district, said that it is necessary for each locality to find its specific and suitable tourism products and the city’s tourism sector should organise more training courses to hone the professionalism of tourism agents to meet tourism products’ demands.
Besides, Can Tho City will continuously call for more investment and boost its image to visitors inside and outside the country by various activities, such as the recent contest to select the most typical tourism product, stated Mr. Tran Viet Phuong, Head of the Can Tho City’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The city believes that these activities would help develop its tourism sector and draw more tourists to the city, added Phuong.
Central provinces to go green
Central Quang Nam Province is calling for “green” investments in many areas, including tourism, so that it can achieve sustainable development. It is hoped the move will spread to neighbouring provinces.
During an investment seminar, Green Growth for Quang Nam, held in Hoi An yesterday, provincial leaders said this meant sustainable tourism, green technology industry, and full protection for the forests and rivers.
Le Phuoc Thanh, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the province had built up a specific strategy for sustainable development for the next two years and had involved related agencies.
“We plan to integrate green growth into local key economic sectors as well as policies to upgrade living standards of locals,” he said.
The strategy focuses on the development of support industry, processing and hi-tech mechanics in Chu Lai, Tam Ky and Dien Ban.
It will deploy programmes for integrated management of natural resources and environment protection. Tourism will be bound to follow ecological guidelines and exploit cultural heritage in a way that preserved it intact for future generations.
The province’s green-growth strategy has been added into the national strategy for green development until 2020, with strong emphasis on climate change adaptation, social welfare and full development of local economic potential.
National Assembly deputy chairman Huynh Ngoc Son reminded local authorities of the three UNESCO-recognised heritage sites in the province.
He recommended the province mobilise international and domestic resources to upgrade infrastructure involving the environment. The seminar was held by UN-Habitat, Global Green Growth Institute and the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Deficient hospitality workforce challenges tourism
A lack of trained human resources and entertainment and recreation services was likely to challenge Da Nang’s target of welcoming 4 million tourists with a revenue of US$409 million by 2015.
The news was announced by director of the city’s culture, sports and tourism department Ngo Quang Vinh at a conference yesterday.
“The city has 335 hotels with 11,400 rooms, but only 40 per cent of the 14,000 staff working in the tourism and hospitality sector are actually qualified,” Vinh said.
The city’s tourism sector currently lacks around 10,000 workers, while a system of 12 colleges and vocational centres are only capable of training around 5,000 students a year.
“With 12 five-star and four-star hotels and resorts, Da Nang needs international standard tourism education centres, but the city has yet to establish one,” he said.
The city plans to increase the number of hotels and resorts to 429 with 15,700 rooms by 2015, so it needs around 20,000 new staff in the tourism sector.
“We have to train in kitchen skills, housekeeping, front desk and food & beverages. Senior staff will train newcomers and they will gradually develop the necessary skills,” said Truong Ngoc Thanh, a communications officer at the Furama Resort.
“It would be easier for us if the city develops an international standard hospitality training centre, and we wouldn’t have to spend much on our training programmes,” he explained.
The city’s tourism association in co-operation with the Centre for Swiss Education and Swiss Hotel Association will launch a course to train an international standard hospitality workforce later this year.
The city, which has a 90km coastline, has yet to develop large nighttime entertainment centres, ocean parks or adventure tours to persuade tourists to stay longer in Da Nang.
“It’s the reason that tourists prefer to stay in Hoi An or Hue, rather than Da Nang. Hoi An lures tourists with its old town and traditional culture, while Hue still preserves the ancient monuments of the century-old imperial city,” Vinh added.
The city welcomed 1.5 million tourists in the first six months of the year and is on track to meet its annual target of 3 million visitors.
HCM City welcomes foreign guests
HCM City’s foreign arrivals exceeded 1.9 million in the first six months of this year, a 5 per cent increase.
The Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) Online Newspaper quoted the city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism as saying that so far this year, the number of foreign arrivals to the city fulfilled 47 per cent of the annual target of 4.1 million.
HCM City’s six-month tourism revenue reached an estimated VND41 trillion (nearly US$2 billion), a year-on-year increase of 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the yearly target.
The city is applying a VAT refund programme for foreign tourists on purchases made in Viet Nam when exiting the country through Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
So far, 37 businesses in the city have registered to sell goods with VAT refunds. The municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism is planning to intensify promotion activities to encourage travel agencies to participate in the programme.
ODA-funded transport projects hastened
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has called for transport projects funded by Official Development Assistance (ODA) to be given more urgency and funds released more quickly.
At a meeting in Ha Noi to review the performance of ODA-funded transport projects under the sponsorship of the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the deputy PM put forward two solutions: prioritise disbursement of capital for critically important projects and restructure existing projects for more effective implementation.
The meeting comes at a time when key ODA-fuelled transport projects are reported to be falling behind schedule, triggering more difficulties in disbursement as input prices increase, according to representatives of the WB and ADB.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment, the organiser of the meeting, suggested the Ministry of Transport take a closer look at the existing projects to make adjustments to capital allocation appropriate to the scale of the projects.-
Samsung expands giant project
The Industrial Parks Authority in the northern province of Bac Ninh granted a modified investment certificate for Samsung Electronics Viet Nam on Thursday to add US$1 billion investment to its SEV3 project.
The company’s investment certificate will be revised following the Government approval, paving the way for the company to increase capital for the project to $2.5 billion.
Construction of the 550.000 square metre plant in Yen Phong I Industrial Zone will get underway this month and is targeted for completion by 2017. When fully operational, it should employ around 20,000 workers.
Samsung Electronics Viet Nam said the extra capital would allow the Samsung complex in Bac Ninh to become its largest manufacturing base in the world.
It will produce high-tech products such as mobile phones, telecom devices, spare parts and other electronic products.-
Japan shares processing know-how
Japan’s leading agricultural processing and sorting machine manufacturer Satake has announced plans to transfer its technology to a Vietnamese company.
The Japanese group will provide Viet Nam’s An Giang Plant Protection Joint Stock Company (AGPPS) with equipment and technical assistance during the four processing stages of drying, polishing, assessing and managing rice quality.
Their co-operation agreement aims to help AGPPS independently manufacture modern dryers capable of producing germinated brown (GABA) rice. This rice variety’s abundance of amino acids is beneficial to consumer health.
Government bond yields edge higher
Around VND200 billion (US$9.5 million) of two-year bonds issued by the Bank for Social Policy were sold yesterday, yielding 7.6 per cent, higher than the previous auction by 0.1 per cent.
The bank has raised over VND5.4 trillion ($257.1 million) through bonds since earlier this year.
On Thursday, bonds issued by the State Treasury were also bought at a value of VND3.25 trillion ($154.7 million), yielding between 6.68-7.65 per cent, higher than the previous auction by 0.15-0.35 per cent.
The State Treasury has raised VND91.67 trillion ($4.3 billion) through bonds since earlier this year.