HCM City plans many cultural events for New Year

Ho Chi Minh Metropolis is currently bustling with activities for Christmas and New Period and for the coming Tet leisure season.

The “Shining welcome for New Year” programme will feature thousands of colorful lights along main city streets like Dong Khoi, Le Loi, Nguyen Hue and Le Duan in District 1 from December 26 to February 3, 2012.

The City has planned firework displays in the Thu Thiem area of District 2 and Dam Sen Park in District 11 on New Year’s Eve. In addition, an out door music performance will take place on Nguyen Hue Street from 9 pm-12 midnight on December 31.

The much awaited annual flower display on Nguyen Hue Flower Street titled “Vietnam, my country” during the coming Tet Lunar New Year will open from January 20 until January 26 (December 28 - January 4 on the lunar calendar).

Another festival, the Banh Tet (cylindrical glutinous rice cake) festival will take place from January 16-20, 2012. Started in 2004, the Banh Tet festival is celebrated every year with a focus on poor and needy people of the city and helping them to enjoy a warm and joyful Tet. The event will open with a Banh Tet cake making competition, in which 10,000 cakes will be baked and then distributed to poor families and disadvantaged children in HCMC.

An outdoor music performance on Nguyen Hue Street from 9pm-12midnight on January 22 (December 29 on the lunar calendar) and firework displays in several locations around the city will ring in the New Year.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport announced a plan to temporarily halt traffic construction works and repair of roads and drainage systems during the period December 31-January 1 and from January 8-30, 2012.

Vietnam Airlines adds 112,000 tickets for Tet

National flag toter, War Airlines leave remain to sell 112,000 more tickets on the Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh Metropolis routes for the forthcoming Tet spend period before January 1, 2012.

Accordingly, there will be more than 60,000 seats on flights departing before January 17 and over 50,000 tickets on flights after Tet.

Domestic routes have currently seen more than 28,000 seats for flights departing before Tet and 23,000 seats on flights after Tet.

In related news, according to Do Thai Lam, deputy head of Da Nang railway station, 75 percent of train tickets on peak Tet days have sold out until December 21. The demand for passenger transport during the Tet holidays has increased 20-30 percent compared to normal days.

Head of Dieu Tri railway station in Binh Dinh Province said that train tickets from the province to Ho Chi Minh City on peak days after Tet have also sold out.

Phan Xuan Son, Deputy Director of Thua Thien-Hue Bus Station Management Company, said the company has added about 40 additional 50-seater buses to meet the high demand for Tet.

Hue garden-houses close en masse

Galore tourists to the old great municipality of Hue are real hot to conceptualise unequalled garden-houses, but they are dumbfounded because they are refused by allPhu Mong garden house garden-houses.

“Nha vuon hue” or garden-house is a typical kind of ornamental garden which is a combination of housing architecture with surrounding garden. Garden-houses are the homes of feudal mandarins in the past or houses of rich traders. Houses there are traditional-styled houses (often nha ruong Hue) and they are surrounded by gardens.

Hue garden-houses were opened for tourists since the Hue Festival 2000. Since then they have become favorite destinations. The most famous garden-houses include An Hien, Lac Tinh Vien, Ngoc Son Princess, etc. However, these garden-houses are now almost closed.

Le Khanh Tuan, the owner of a garden-house, explained: “I have to wear ao dai (traditional gown for men) khan dong (ready-to-wear turban for men) and stand at the gate to welcome tourists, make tea for them and sometimes I have to leave my meal to introduce the garden-house to tourists but I earn nothing.”

Nguyen Thi Tuy, who also owns a garden-house, said that her garden-house has been opened for free for nearly ten years. “We want to introduce our garden-houses as Hue’s specialty to tourists but we cannot do this task for free forever.”

Tuy said that owners of garden-houses have asked local authorities for assistance but they did not receive any feedback.

Mr. Hoang Xuan Bac, 80, who owns Phu Mong garden-house, said he had to get up early to clean the home, to buy flowers to decorate it, but he could not do this for free anymore. Bac said that he was busy the whole day to welcome tourists but earn nothing from this job, while taxes on garden-house has increased ten times since they become tourist destinations.

To save himself, Mr. Bac offered food and drink services. Though his house is no longer quiet but his family earns some money to preserve the house.Ancien garden house

“Some families open their garden-houses for free and when the houses are downgraded, they do not have money to repair them,” Bac added.

For this reason, many tourists are amazed when they are not welcomed at any garden-house.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, an official from the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Thua Thien – Hue province, said that the province does not have regulations on selling tickets at garden-houses while the provincial budget is very limited to assist garden-houses.

Vice Chair of Thua Thien-Hue province, Le Truong Luu, said that the local government would reduce taxes on garden-houses and assist owners to preserve their houses. But Luu admitted that this policy has just been implemented so it has not benefited many people.

“We are seeking measures to preserve garden-houses. We have made a list of 157 typical garden-houses for assistance,” Luu added.

Aviation market: not easy for those, who come later

The fact that the nonpublic airline Vietjet Air present cater the original advertisement flights in tardily Dec cannot alter the incumbent situation in the traveling marketplace,Skyteam that the tame artistry mart is allay beingness obsessed by the federal alarum air vector Annam Airlines which is now holding solon than 80 percent of the market share.

The last week witnessed three important pieces of news. Vietjet Air, a private airline, will officially join the domestic aviation market on December 2, and announces the launching of its first commercial flight on December 25.

In the first phase of operation, Vietjet Air will develop the HCM City – Hanoi air route.

Commenting about the event, Luu Thanh Binh, Deputy Head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam CAAV, said that the opportunities for the airlines which have joined the market like Vietjet Air are very big.

However, the two other pieces of news, also released last week, show the contrary thing. An official of CAAV informed at a regular press conference held by the Ministry of Transport in late November that Indochina Airlines have had its operation license revoked.

Dinh Viet Thang, Deputy Head of CAAV, has confirmed that the license has been revoked after the ministry found out that Indochina Airlines has stopped operation for the last 12 months, and that the air carrier is not capable to resume flights.

In fact, the information did not surprise anyone, because Indochina Airlines has not been taking any activities in the last many months, and all the efforts of the air carrier to restart its operation all have failed completely.

Also according to Thang, Jetstar Pacific JPA, a budget airline, has also been facing a lot of difficulties despite the great efforts to restructure the airline. The Ministry of Finance is considering transferring JPA to Vietnam Airlines.

Commenting about the latest news, experts say that the information shows that the domestic aviation market is really very tough for those, who come later.

Sharing the same view, Chu Viet CUong, Managing Director of Vietjet Air, admitted that the airline is bearing a hard pressure after joining the aviation market, and that it is very likely that the airline would incur loss.

With the estimated cost of 250 million dong for a flight with Airbus 320 on the HCM City – Hanoi route, Vietjet Air needs to see at least 80 percent of seats occupied to break even. This is really a very difficult task for such a new comer on the market such as vietjet Air.

President of Air Mekong Doan Quoc Viet also said that though the airline has prepared well for the first phase of operation, the business performance is still far below the expectation, because of the big fluctuations of the input costs.

Viet said that the dong/dollar exchange rate has been fluctuating with the dollar price having increased by 10 percent over the last year. Meanwhile, the fuel price has been increasing dramatically, and the labor cost has also increased. Especially, while the input costs have increased, the revenue has not increased accordingly, because the government still sets up a cap on the airfare. Meanwhile, Air Mekong has to compete fiercely with other airlines that provide domestic flights.

The information that JPA may be put under the control of Vietnam Airlines has raised new worries about the competition of airlines. Statistics show that by mid 2011, Vietnam Airline3s had held 80 percent of the market, while JPA 17 percent, which means that after the merging, Vietnam Airlines would hold 97 percent of the market share.

Analysts say that Vietjet Air and Air Mekong will have to struggle to hold the remaining three percent. Any move to be taken by Vietnam Airlines, the elder brother, especially in the airfare policy, the sale promotion campaigns and land services, would have big impacts on the market and influence the operation of other airlines. Of course, in the competition with the giant Vietnam Airlines, private small air carriers would be on the lower hand

Binh Dinh: tourism product distorts Thi Nai lagoon

The river mouths of Kon and Ha Thanh, the two big rivers that motion to the Thi Nai lagune, are in the danger of dynamic their modify due to the effort of a business direct, which may seriously influence the harbor scheme in Quy Nhon Municipality.

Encroaching the lagoon to get land for tourism project

A large area located at the foot of the Thi Nai Bridge – the longest sea-crossing in Vietnam that spans the Thi Nai lagoon – is changing it shape rapidly because of a construction site where people try to encroach on the lagoon to get land for the tourism product.

Tens of trucks were seen carrying sand from the Nhon Hoi economic zone there and then throwing sand into the lagoon. To date, the northeastern part of the lagoon has encroached onto the sea by hundreds of meters.

Le Tan Dang, a local resident in Nhon Hoi commune of Quy Nhon City, said that since the day sand is poured into the lagoon to encroach onto the sea, the flow regime of Kon and Ha Thanh rivers has changed, while the Nhon Hoi seaport has also been influenced.

“We fear that when heavy floods rush down, this will cause immeasurable consequences,” he said.

According to the Binh Dinh Economic Zone, the lagoon encroachment is a part of the project on the Nhon Hoi shopping mall – service – tourism complex developed by Quoc Thang Company. The project is expected to cover an area of 74 hectares.

Nguyen Ngoc Toan, Deputy Head of the Binh Dinh Economic Zone’s Management Board, said that a part of the land for the project has been designed to be created from the lagoon encroachment. Therefore, Quoc Thang Company has been pouring sand into the lagoon to get polder for the project.

Toan admitted that the approved project does not mention the building of embankments to prevent the sand slide into the lagoon.

“When we considered the project previously, we saw that the encroached area was not big, therefore, we did not require building embankments,” Toan explained.

No agency has come forward and supervised the lagoon encroachment carried out by Quoc Thang Company. As a result, the total area for the project has increased by 20 hectares in comparison with the area in the approved project, while the encroachment has seriously affected Thi Nai lagoonthe environment.

While the project has been causing immediate consequences which have not been settled, the Binh Dinh provincial authorities have allowed Quoc Thang Company to implement another project on developing Dai Phu Gia luxury villa area on the northwestern area of the Thi Nai Bridge, with the total area of 34 hectares.

Bad consequences obvious

The encroached area on Thi Nai lagoon is situated just 1-1.5 kilometers far from the Quy Nhon, Thi Nai and the new Central ports. Therefore, experts have warned that the sedimentation proves to be a high risk.

“Since the encroached area is located adjacent to the estuary, the flow regime of Kon and Ha Thanh rivers would change. If so, sand would be carried by the new flows which will gradually fill in the Thi Nai lagoon and the seaports,” an official of the Binh Dinh provincial department for agriculture and rural development.

According to Le Minh Tien, Deputy General Director of the Quy Nhon port development company, the sedimentation has been going very rapidly. Recently, the depth of the seaport has decreased by one meter. If the situation continues, in the near future, the ships with the tonnage of 30,000-50,000 tons would not be able to enter the seaports.

900 English tourists to enter Sai Gon Port

A significant forgather of various century tourists are set to get at Sai Gon Port tomorrow as section of a Voyages of Brainstorm voyage.

Most of the 900 tourists are from England, and the grouping testament pass ogdoad days exploring Viet Nam.

The tourists will visit a number of famous places, such as the Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho southern province, Bao Dai King Palace in Nha Trang central city, the ancient capital of Hue and Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh, which has been recognised as one of the natural wonders of the world.

Their journey across Viet Nam will end on December 30.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, a representative of the Saigontourist Travel Service, said that during this year, the company served more than 115,000 foreign tourists on famous cruise ships, including Costa Classica, Costa Romantica, SuperStar Virgo and SuperStar Aquarius.

The country expects to welcome one million tourists from cruise ships by 2015, according to the Viet Nam National Administration on Tourism.

Domestic tours getting unattractive because of higher airfare

Domesticated tours score embellish not favored by Annamese travelers, because they are writer valuable than outgoing tours.Vietnam tourism

Mai Hanh, a hirer of a weeny media steadfastly, definite to aggregation a turn for her descent on Tet leisure. She desirable to travel to the sea municipality of Nha Trang. However, she denaturised her deal after consulting with the officers of locomote firms. The difficulty is that outbound journeying fees are regularise devalue than municipal shift fees.

At Vietravel, for example, a four day trip to Nha Trang – Da Lat costs no less than 9 million dong. Meanwhile, a 6-day trip to Bangkok – Pattaya in Thailand would cost 6-7 million dong only.

After putting some thoughts, Hanh decided to choose the tour to Bangkok. “I feel happier to spend less money to travel to Bangkok, where I believe there are many things to see,” Hanh said.

In fact, domestic tours had always been more expensive than the tours to neighboring countries before Vietnam Airlines decided to raise the airfare by 20 percent on December 15. Currently, a tour from Hanoi to southern destinations such as Phu Quoc Island and Da Lat costs approximately 10 million dong. Meanwhile, passengers just need to spend 2-6 million dong to travel by air to neighboring countries.

Therefore, travel firms fear that with the 20 percent airfare increase, domestic tours would even have less travelers.

Pham Ha, Director of Luxury Travel, said that the tours in Vietnam are usually more expensive than that in other regional countries. Meanwhile, tourism sites have continuously raised the excursion fees recently. This, together with the 20 percent airfare increase and the high inflation would make it even more difficult to attract travelers for domestic tours.

“In the current difficulties, not only businesses, but individual clients also tend to fasten their belt. Therefore, the more expensive the tours get, the more difficult to sell tours,” Ha said.

Meanwhile, Vu Hoang Anh, Director of Net Dep Dong Duong Travel Firm (Indochina’s Charm), said in previous years, travel firms were informed many months in advance about the airfare increases. However, they have not been informed in advance about the latest increase. It took only several months from the day Vietnam Airlines proposed to increase the airfares to the day the proposal was accepted. Therefore, travel firms do not have enough time to get adapted to the new circumstances.

“The airfares have increased unexpectedly, while clients have booked tours until the end of 2012, and a half of them have paid money,” he complained, adding that his travel firm would have to offset losses with their own money.

Like other travel firms, Net Dep Dong Duong now has to draw up new plans to get to the new circumstances. It is considering designing the tours which do not much require travel by air, while considering using trains for short distance trips.

“The Vietnamese market is leaving its competitiveness itself. If the situation cannot be improved, travelers would head for other markets,” said Anh.

Booking agents have reported big changes in selling air tickets in the last few days. HK Vietnam said that before the day the new airfare was applied, people rushed to book tickets. On December, HK Vietnam sold 3 billion dong worth of air tickets of Vietnam Airlines, while the figure was 6 billion dong on December 14. However, the sales dropped to one billion dong on December 15, the first day of applying the new airfare.

However, the sharp falls in the sales of tickets do not make booking agents and airlines feel worried. In general, the move by Vietnam Airlines to raise the airfares would be followed by other air carriers. Therefore, passengers will still have to accept the high airfares, because they need to use aviation services.

Dong Van Rocky Highland Foods

The yankee mountainous extent of Ha Giang has transform an spellbinding traveller goal for its unbleached beauty and a countywide difference of unique foods.

Stony mountainsides are cloaked with vegetable whisky in aboriginal season, followed by the exclusive dramatist ready of the assemblage. From the luxuriously mountains, one has a outstanding range of the depression valleys beneath with terraced lyricist comic where H'Mong farmers affect.

Ha Giang vegetable has shoots as big as asparagus sprouts and xanthous flowers. It has get a lowborn nutrient shaper for group extant in the lowlands where overbold vegetables are in zealous claim.

All year round, the cool temperature of the mountains, especially in the districts of Dong Van and Meo Vac, offer favorable conditions for local people to grow fresh crops such as cucumbers and Dutch beans.

In these two districts fresh rice always cooked in aluminum pots and kept warm with coals, making the rice more delicious than rice cooked in electric cookers in lowland areas.

Normally, in order to fully explore the four mountainous districts, a tourist has to spend a night in Ha Giang after traveling 320km by car from Hanoi. The following morning they continue their trip around high mountain slopes and often stop for lunch in the town of Yen Minh.

The food here is unique, featuring boiled spinach, young corn ears, minced meat and stream shrimp fried with lemon leaves.

In winter, Chinese sausage and smoked meat are specialties. The sausage is minced meat mixed with spices, stuffed into a small pig intestine and baked on hot coals before being put on a smoking shelf.

The smoked meat is part of the rump, lean and fat, mixed with the shoulder of a young pig which has been cut into long pieces and salted for a week before being hung on the smoking shelf. After it is cooked, the taste of salt and fat may seem strange to someone unfamiliar with this delicacy.

The heart of the northernmost area of Vietnam is Dong Van town. The centre of the stone highland region features the majestic beauty of three market rows that the French built in the 1930s when they discovered this area.

If you come to the rocky highlands, try “ga meo“, a special, local variety of chicken. The chicken’s feet, crest, skin, meat and bones are all black. It is often boiled, deep fried or cooked with ginger. The Ga meo meat is quite unusual; firm but not tough, lean but tasty.

LOT Polish Airlines slashes the price of a return ticket to Europe

LOT Refulgence Airlines is offering an captivating reduction on recall tickets outgoing from Hanoi to Polska and Continent, from December 15th - 31st, 2011 at 5,888 meg VND.

The above-mentioned 20% discount tickets are available within 3 months. So, passengers need to return before March 31, 2012.

Passengers can buy these promotion tickets online either at http://www.lot.com/web/lot/home-na or at various LOT airlines agent in Hanoi, or just call to LOT office in Hanoi at +84 (4) 3577 2202.

Earlier, the airline opened its first ever direct flight from Warsaw to Hanoi on November 14th.

Founded in 1929, LOT Polish Airlines is the oldest airline in Europe. It is not a low cost airline, but its prices are lower compared to other companies. The airline is a member of Star Alliance, the biggest global airline alliance since 2003. LOT has been nominated eleven times as the best airline in Central and Eastern Europe. The company will have eight Boeing Dreamliner 787s by 2015.

Seminar on training environment conservation and energy management in tourist accommodations

On Dec, 8th -10th 2011 Viet Nam Subject Incumbency of Tourism (VNAT) interconnected with AEMAS design (the Association Vim Handler Accreditation serminaRepresentation) to bear a  seminar on activity environs improvement and force direction in traveler accommodations.

The seminar was held in Da Nang City with the attendance of representatives of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Departments and hotels from central provinces.

The seminar aims to enhance skills and knowledge on environment conservation, introduce about label of Green Lotus and share experiences in accommodation management.

At present, environment conservation and adaptation to climate change are important issues to individuals and organizations. Specially, environment is an essential resource to develop Viet Nam tourism.

Driving towards sustainable development goal, international integration, quality and competitiveness improvement of accommodations, VNAT has built a criteria system of "sustainable tourism label" or called "label of Green Lotus" to apply for accommodations in Viet Nam.

Label of Green Lotus is considered as a standard on environment conservation and sustainable development granted to tourist accommodations contributing to environment protection, efficient use of energy and resources, nation's heritage preservation, local economic, cultural and social development and sustainable tourism development.

There are five levels of Green Lotus label from the lowest level with 1 green lotus to the highest level with 5 green lotuses. The number of green lotuses will depend on the points that the accommodation reaches according to the criteria of green lotus label.

It is expected the label of Green Lotus will be applied for hotels from 3 to 5 stars in 2012 and then for all tourist accommodations in Viet Nam.