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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  9 April 2014  

VITM 2014 Ha Noi set on a larger scale than last year

Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai (07.04.2014)

Compared with the outcomes of Viet Nam International Travel Mart (VITM) Ha Noi 2013, Viet Nam Tourism Association in collaboration with People's Committee of Ha Noi and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism kept holding VITM 2014 on a larger scale at the Viet Nam Exhibition Fair Center in Ha Noi on April 3-6 this year. There were more than 665 travel companies, hotels and tourism promotion centers taking part in the mart with 508 booths, including 154 international ones from 22 countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea and Turkey amongst others.

During the 4-day mart, there were many special events held, including 7 different conferences and workshops, as well as 11 press briefings and destination presentations. Also, there was a tourism students' enrollment day, tourism promotion activities and Viet Nam's cuisine demonstrations. It was estimated that over 50,000 people were visiting and purchasing products at the mart.

Under the theme "Tourism promotion: New destinations, new opportunities and responsible tourism for a sustainable growth" VITM 2014 Ha Noi transformed into the major event of Viet Nam's tourism industry and a professional trade fair of international standard.

A typical example was the Medical Tourism Industry Exhibition held by South Korea's Busan City with about 70 booths. In addition, the presence of Busan city mayor and other international guests at the opening ceremony proved the great interest and contribution to the success of the mart. A gala dinner was held at the Daewoo Hotel.

Some hosted media delegates had the opportunity to attend the 3-day program organized for them by Ha Noi Tourist Travel Company after the first day of the mart.

First, on April 4, there was a full day bus excursion to Ninh Binh Province located south of Ha Noi. Departing at 9.00 o'clock from the Pullman Hotel Ha Noi, after a two hours drive the newly constructed Bai Dinh Pagoda temple complex was visited. As the largest Buddhist pagoda in Viet Nam, there was an impressive gold-plated copper Buddha enshrined in a temple hall, which can be reached through long corridors adorned with huge stone sculptures. Actually, you need a whole day to enjoy the whole complex that offers many places for meditation.

In the afternoon, delegates boarded a small sampan boat to explore Trang An Eco-Tourism Site, a natural complex situated in a beautiful landscape and called as an outdoor geological museum with its numerous caves, limestone mountains, green valleys and historical temples.

On April 5, delegates went for a Ha Noi city tour. In the morning, the remarkable Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was visited, followed by an extensive visit to the nearby Thanh Long Royal Citadel, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back a thousand years and more. Also visited was the famous Temple of Literature, site of Viet Nam's first university and a sanctuary for Confucius dating back to the 11th century.

In the afternoon, delegates used the newly introduced electric vehicles to drive around the Old Quarter with its 36 former bazaar streets, such as Hang Bac or Silver Street. As the last stop for the day, a colorful water puppet show was offered as an example to enjoy one of the unique traditional arts of Viet Nam.

Finally, on April 6, delegates were transferred to Ha Long Bay, which  is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Driving some four hours on a still to be finished highway, a boat cruise from Paradise Bay featured magnificent views of a floating village, beautiful limestone hills and Thien Cung grotto. Also, a delicious seafood lunch was served. After coming back to Ha Noi at around 19.30, a sumptuous farewell buffet dinner was offered at the biggest Sen Restaurant near the West Lake.

Viet Nam's tourism has rapidly developed in recent years. Despite the fact that the worldwide economic crisis has heavily affected the region, tourism has remained to be a positive sector of Viet Nam's economy. Especially the development of tourism has spurred many other economic sectors and has been very useful for poverty elimination and economic restructuring in many remote areas, where there are plentiful tourism sources.

Interesting to note is that in 2013 Viet Nam attracted 7.5 million international tourist arrivals and sees an increase of 29% already in the first quarter of 2014. It has to be seen if Viet Nam gradually becomes a nation with a fully developed tourism industry.

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