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Sightseeing along the border

2009-11-16 (GMT + 7)

Border provinces have rich tourism potential that has yet to be fully tapped, according to industry experts.

Vu The Binh, head of the Tourism Travel Department at the National Tourism Administration, said access to the area was good, with a 4,550km-long border road and 42 international and main border gates.

Sightseeing sites include the Truong Son mountain range, Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, Sapa mountain district in Lao Cai Province, the Dong Van-Meo Vac stone plateau in Ha Giang Province, and Ha Tien town and beach in Kien Giang Province.

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are also abundant in tourism sites, and the areas where ethnic minorities live are often intriguing to tourists who want to learn about their customs and lifestyle.

Binh said that with such rich potential, border provinces could develop ecological and adventure tourism, including hiking, climbing, boat regatta and diving.

Duong Dinh Hien of the Tourism Development and Research Institute said that border provinces should also develop their trading and shopping networks, which would help eradicate hunger and poverty in those areas.

Figures show that turnover from tourism at border provinces last year was more than VND7 trillion (US$393 million), a healthy development but far from what could be reached.

Nguyen Viet Di, director of Lang Son Export-Import and Tourism Service Company, said the Huu Nghi international border gate in Lang Son Province, which has 20 customers only, has fallen into disrepair.

Nguyen Dinh Thanh, deputy head of Vitours Company in Da Nang City, said that traffic infrastructure was the key to developing cross-border tourism.

Border provinces have few luxury hotels and the personnel quality is low, leading to poor quality tourism services.

Binh said the current number of tourists traveling through border gates comprises only 30 per cent of foreign tourists.

According to Binh, Viet Nam’s tourism sector should have policies to invest in tourism in border provinces in a timely fashion because the number of tourists who travel through border gates has increased.

Authorities should create better checking procedures with priority lines for tourists, and use modern equipment to shorten processing time for tourists as well as import and export activities, he said.

Binh said that one visa for tourists in ASEAN-member countries would help increase the number of foreign tourists.

Thanh said more Thai tourists travelled to Viet Nam’s central provinces after advertising by the General Department of Tourism at the beginning of this year was launched.

More brochures in the languages of border residents of other countries should be available as well as more promotion activities, he said.

Draft legislation on travel via border gates, including the use of foreign-owned vehicles and a fixed fee, is expected to be approved by the Government soon.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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