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Vietnam's tourism bounces

2009-12-28 (GMT + 7)

A group of my Vietnamese friends from the US headed by Duong Quang Chan, a businessman, arrived in Ha Noi this week to start a New Year trans-Viet Nam tour and to seek out a suitable place to open a restaurant in the country

"My friends and I are excited to be back in our homeland which we left almost 30 years ago," he said.

Waterfall: A corner of Ban Gioc Waterfall, in the northern province of Cao Bang's Trung Khanh District, is one of the most beautiful falls in Viet Nam.
Chan went on to say that he never forgets to visit websites about Viet Nam and added, "I’ve witnessed a lot of changes in the country and I think that it’s a good time to open a restaurant. Viet Nam’s economy is reported to be recovering after last year’s global crisis and more importantly, the number of foreign visitors expected to visit the country is predicted to sharply increase."

Chan said his group will spend a week in Ha Noi, taking in the cultural and tourism sites, particularly pagodas and temples. "We will all pedal by bicycle to Tran Quoc and Quan Su pagodas and enjoy the street life with local people that we could only see through the internet and TV before."

The overseas Vietnamese group said they will stay in Viet Nam through the traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays which begin on February 14.

"We’ll celebrate Tet in the northern province of Cao Bang, my birthplace, with my relatives. There will be banh chung (square cake) and nem chao (pig skin cut into strips mixed with pig fat, powdered fried rice, lemon and mint) which my family enjoy so much because of their unique flavours," Chan told Viet Nam News.

"We’ll also visit Pac Bo Cave, where President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked in Ha Quang District, and Ban Gioc Waterfall in Trung Khanh District," he added.

In contrast to Chan’s group, Hanoian Nguyen Thi Su and her family decided to travel from Ha Noi to Singapore to spend Christmas and New Year, partly because of the low prices for foreign and domestic tours.

"My children are so excited about their first trip abroad. We plan to spend our week relaxing, enjoying the entertainment and shopping because it is the discount season.

"We will also look at several universities in Singapore that we plan to send my son to next year," Su said.

Unlike Su, young couple Vu Van Hung and his wife have booked their honeymoon in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat to welcome the New Year and join the country’s biggest ever flower festival which will be held from January 1-4.

"My wife loves Da Lat flowers very much. She has always wanted to go there but was always too busy. However, now is a great time for her to enjoy the hundreds of flowers that will be on display at the festival.

Vu Hoang, general director of the festival, told Viet Nam News that all of Da Lat City’s hotels and restaurants have been fully booked by domestic and foreign guests.

In addition, many travel companies have launched tours to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Ha Noi for those who wish to seek out the culture and history of the capital while enjoying its sights and culinary delights.

For example, Saigontourist offers a three-five days tour called Pilgrim to One Thousand Year Thang Long and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, that connects the three dynasties of Dinh, earlier Le and Ly. Viettravel have launched a tour entitled, Ha Noi Welcomes New Year 2010 with Ha Noi, Yen Tu, Ha Long and Sa Pa on the six day itinerary, and Fiditour offers tours to Viet Nam’s coast and islands including Nha Trang, Ninh Chu and Phu Quoc and Con Dao.

Encouraging signs

The general director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Nguyen Van Tuan, said the national promotion campaign, Impression of Viet Nam, launched early this year has produced positive results as local visitors have increased month after month.

It was estimated that there would be about 25 million local travellers by the end of this year, up 15 per cent from last year, said Tuan, adding that tourism turnover as a result of these domestic tourists increased by 8-10 per cent. "The figures show Impression of Viet Nam has been a success," he said.

The VNAT also estimates that foreign visitors to Viet Nam will hit 400,000 by the end of this month and early January, taking the 2009 total to 3.9-4 million, down about 10 per cent compared with 2008.

"We hope that celebrations for 1,000 years of Ha Noi throughout the country combined with affordable, quality tours and services, will attract foreign visitors over the coming weeks", Tuan said.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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