Bui Thi Kim Dung, Vice Chairwoman of the Lao Cai People’s Committee and the official in charge of tourism cooperation among the three provinces in 2010, says that the program will be sufficiently diverse to reflect the potential of this region.
Dung says the program is one of the 10 major tourism events which northwestern provinces will organize in 2010 to mark 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi, and will therefore be brimming with innovative approaches aimed at capturing the interest of tour operators.
“The program will be effectively organized to diversify the tourism products of all the three provinces involved. Together with culture-based tourism and ecotourism, it will become a unique tourism product,” Dung stresses.
The opening ceremony will be held on February 27 (the 14th day of the first lunar month) at the square of the Lao Cai - Cam Duong New Urban Town, in conjunction with the main activities, including Thuong Temple Festival (Lao Cai), “Festival in the Cloud” in Sapa, the Bac Ha Open horse race, a contest for explorers wishing to conquer Fansipan and Lao Cai City’s tourism festival.
Yen Bai will also launch many activities such as the Dong Cuong Temple Festival, the Dai Cai- Luc Yen Temple Festival, celebration of its 110th anniversary and Muong Lo Culture - Tourism Week.
Phu Tho, meanwhile, will kick off a variety of traditional festivals on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, the Hung Temple Festival.
One of the highlights of the program is the international mountain-climbing contest themed “Thang Long Hanoi - millennium anniversary.” This event is part of the activities organized to mark the capital’s 1,000th anniversary which have already received the nod from the Prime Minister.
The contest will lure competing teams from ASEAN countries and China, in addition to tourism enterprises, diplomatic delegations and international organizations in Hanoi and HCMC.
Tran Huu Son, Director of the Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, says that the contest is special as it features special ceremonies of ethnic minority races such as H’mong and Dao. The use of folk songs throughout the entire event, the flagpole-erection ceremony included, has been discussed in detail.
Cooperation for development
Five years of tourism cooperation among Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho has reaped considerable success in cultural interchange and socio-economic development.
A host of unique tourism products have been created to attract tourists, foster socio-economic development, create jobs and improve living standards. Many tours to the region have come about, including “Colors of the highlands” and “Heritage Trip to Northwestern Vietnam.”
The provinces have focused on restoring historical landmarks, improving facilities such as hotels, offering supporting services and developing products such as souvenirs to cater to demands from tourists. Many other localities have also indicated their interest in learning from Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho to flesh out sustainable, regional tourism development strategies.
However, tourism experts and tour operators say that the “Returning to the roots” program has not been impressive enough to generate their interest and some tourism products still lack regional attributes.
Son says that in 2010, the program will take more concrete steps to capitalize on the potential of all three localities to develop trade, tourism and services in these localities and expand ties with southwestern China. The highlights include spiritual trips, as well as visits to highland markets and terraced fields.