The cost for Ha Long Bay’s wonder title not high: official

VietNamNet Connection - Nguyen Van Tinh, progression of the Ministry of Civilization, Sports and Tourism's Planetary Relations Division, said that Halong Baythe business movement for Ha Longitudinal Bay is not expensive in comparability with different tourism jacket programs.

What did you seek when you knew that Ha Yearn Bay entered the initial identify of the world's new septet uncolored wonders?

I could not kip that night to inactivity for the annunciation from the NewOpenWorld orderliness. Until nearly 2am of November 12, I waited to comprehend a expression communicating from Mr. Bernard Conductor, NewOpenWorld Chair. I'm very elysian and redoubtable. We eff achieved the content of attaining the new unprocessed mull of the mankind heading after quaternion age of efforts.

This is not the ultimate result. Why do you believe in Ha Long Bay’s winning?

I completely believe that Ha Long Bay is a new natural wonder of the world. The NewOpenWorld checked the votes on the Internet, via telephone, etc. However, they want to have an upright result for the world’s recognition so they have hired an independent auditing firm to check the vote counting result.

I think there is no problem for the Ha Long Bay, because one month after we called for people to vote for the bay by sending text messages, we got 24.09 million messages, a very impressive figure.

At the beginning, we expected to have around 5 million messages only, based on the result of similar campaigns. This is the effort of Vietnamese people and international friends.

With more than 24 million messages, Vietnam spent more than VND15 billion ($750,000), besides other expenses for organizing advertising campaigns for the bay. How do you think about the cost that we paid for the ‘new natural wonder of the world’ title?

The NewOpenWorld did not limit the number of voting messages that one person could send. Each message is cost VND630, with VND30 of tax. The remaining VND600 is partly shared to NewOpenWorld.

I think the cost is not high. We must see this as a tourism promotion task. The government annually spends VND50 billion ($2.5 million) for this task, compared with Malaysia’s $80 million, Thailand’s $70 million and Singapore’s nearly $60 million.

HalongbaySince 2008, the government permitted the tourism sector to advertise Vietnamese tourism on CNN and BBC, with around $160,000/campaign and $200,000 for the latest campaign. However, the advertisement was broadcast on only one program on these channels.

Comparing with these events, the recent campaign for Ha Long bay is not costly at all. We want to develop the name Ha Long Bay with Vietnam’s tourism. If visitors do not go to Ha Long, they are considered to have not visited Vietnam yet.

What will we benefit from the new title for Ha Long bay?

The opportunity for Ha Long Bay has opened for four years. The number of tourists to this site is on the rise. I think that advertising has highly contributed to this.

Visitors to Ha Long bay still complain of being high charges for services, for pollution in the bay, etc. What will we do to deal with these issues?

Our Minister (Minister Hoang Tuan Anh) is very sad when he received letters of international tourists who complained about pollution or breeding bears and monkeys at some tourist sites in Vietnam. In Quang Ninh province, where hosts the Ha Long Bay, the local government has completely solved this issue. I believe that the province will heighten responsibility over tourism culture.

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Light bites Hoi An style

In Hoi An, it isn’t just the shopping experience that leaves a good taste in your mouth.Green_papaya_Salad Centuries ago, the busy port attracted traders from all over the Orient and the Mediterranean. Today, the town boasts a unique local cuisine which draws upon a wide range of flavors, influences and cooking techniques.

Hoi An is home to a number of special dishes that have been traced back to China and Japan, such as cao lầu (noodles with sliced pork, bean sprouts and herbs), mì Quảng (Quang Nam-style noodles) and bánh bao, bánh vạt (white rose-steamed rice dumplings with pork and shrimp inside).

That said, fresh Vietnamese flavors are still king in this quaint seaside town.

As the old town welcomes more and more tourists from all over the world, local chefs are working hard to preserve and improve their own traditional specialties.

One such chef, Trinh Diem Vy, has been very successful in introducing Hoi An’s traditional cuisine to visitors. Vy runs four famous restaurants in town. She is also known as a dedicated cooking instructor.

She has become famous for her gỏi đu đủ (green papaya salad) - a recipe she has passed on to numerous students at her Morning Glory Cooking School at 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

Though her repertoire is broad, Vy specializes in a simple but delicious summer favorites.

The dish is rich in ingredients but is surprisingly simple and satisfying, particularly during the summer.

Gỏi đu đủ is a wonderful mixture of julienned unripe papaya, chilies and carrots sprinkled with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. If you’ve ever visited Hoi An, you will easily fall in love with the way locals use herbs to spice up and decorate their dishes, especially salads.

Vy is no exception. She incorporates local mint (rau răm), anise basil (rau húng quế), coriander (rau mùi), and green shiso (rau kinh giới) into the mix, bringing the dish to a whole new level.

“Herbs play a very important role in Hoi An’s kitchens,” she said. “This land is well-known for growing some of the best in the country and we should take advantage of this.”

The fresh herbs and fruits are dressed in a pungent mix of scallion oil, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic and crushed chilies.

Though Hoi An is full of fresh salad options, I always start my meals with a nice gỏi đu đủ. I love the light sweet taste of papaya, the crunchy roasted peanuts and sesame, and the wonderful mix of herbs and dressing. This is really worth trying if you haven’t yet.

Papaya salad is now popular throughout the country. We often see this green dish at weddings, meetings, and New Year’s feasts. Although people in different regions may add or omit certain ingredients, Hoi An-style papaya salad is, to my taste, always the most delicious.

Cultural exchange strengthens ties with Japan

The ninth Vietnam-Japan Cultural Exchange began in the central city of Hoi An on Aug. 20.

The event is jointly organised by the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam , the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam (JF), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Hoi An municipal People’s Committee.

There will be a wide range of activities within the framework of the three-day exchange featuring traditional poetry, dances and dresses of Japan .

An exhibition displaying activities of the previous eight programmes and a charitable concert will also take place.

Kitamura Toshihiro, Japanese charge d’affaires in Vietnam , praised Hoi An’s thorough preparations of the event, saying the exchange manifests the solidarity between people of the two countries while contributing to tightening the relationship between the two nations.

He used the occasion to highlight the Vietnamese people’s assistance to help the Japanese people overcome the devastating consequences of the March earthquake and tsunami.

Many Japanese entrepreneurs had lived and run business in Hoi An since the 16 th century and left their influence in the city up to now, he said, referring to Bridge pagoda, which was built by Japanese businessmen in the 17 th century, as symbol of cultural exchange of the two countries.

The event, held in every August, receives support from many Japanese organisations and universities.

(Source: VNA)

Cloud over high tourism growth

Most tour operators must have been happy with the overall performance of the hospitality industry, since global uncertainties and domestic economic instability have not sent their business to a tailspin as feared.

The fast tourism development, however, is still clouded by the imbalance between domestic and outbound travel segments on one hand, and inbound travel on the other.


Leaps and bounds on domestic market

Many travel firms have had a big sigh of relief after finishing the summer travel season, the most important one in the year for the local market, including domestic travel and outbound tours. The development of the market seemed to be beyond even optimistic forecasts as the tourism revenue kept growing despite economic uncertainties and a price hike in the industry.

According to a report of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, in the year’s first half alone, the industry catered to 17.5 million local travelers, increasing by 500,000 persons against the same period last year. That result is highly encouraging given the general downbeat mood for the economy.

Regarding the outbound segment, travel firms supposed that the figure was not small, especially for familiar destinations such as Thailand and Singapore, each of them welcoming hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese tourists each year.

Notably, the market has achieved outstanding growth in long-haul tours to faraway nations with expensive costs, including the United States and Europe. The average growth was acknowledged at between 30% and 50% among some companies, regardless of the higher prices.

Between May and July, Hoan My Company each month served eight groups with around 40 persons per group traveling to the United States though the price surged by 10%. According to the company, a ten-day tour to the U.S. worth some US$3,500 still attracts many local customers.

“Tours to the United States, which always increases agreeably in summer, has doubled this year, with 60% of out customers being families who traveled and looked for appropriate schools for their children,” director Nguyen The Khai says.

At Viettours Co., there were two or three tours stateside every month, while the number of tours to Europe has soared by 40-50% with around 90% of customers coming from enterprises.

“Due to economic difficulties, some companies spent less money on tourism, but others such as pharmaceutics, tobacco or petrol companies still book long-distance tours for staffs or important partners,” explains Lu Dinh Phuc, director of the company.

Another tourism operator in HCMC’s District 3 said that the number of travelers booking Europe tours rose by 30% in the summer. Every month the company organized tours for three or four groups with 30-40 members each even though the tour price went up by 20%.

The striking growth of long-haul tour packages at high costs contributed to the sharp rise in revenues of outbound tours this season.

Relating to the phenomenon, some operators explain that this maybe resulted from the gap between the rich and poor. Given the economic recession, the poor who are not the target clients of tourism industry would cut spending, while those whose revenues were almost not impacted keep buying products.

Also, another possible reason is that a number of well-to-do customers tended to eye new and distant places at high costs after enjoying nearby destinations. Therefore, many businesses are busy with promoting new destinations such as Russia and Eastern Europe as well.


Inbound tours yet to prosper

At this time of last year, the market saw a significant rise in the number of MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) visitors, but this year the situation became quite dreary. Similarly, the number of leisure travelers from other markets just improved slightly or even declined, like the cases of arrivals from Japan and China.

In July, the New World Saigon Hotel reached an average occupancy of 67%, equivalent to the same period last year. The number of businessmen grew steadily, but that of leisure visitors tended to decrease at weekends.

At present, there are not many big MICE missions of 200-300 members to the hotel as in previous seasons. Japan, the most crucial market of the hotel, is recovering but cutting down on spending after earthquake and tsunami disasters in March.

“There is no remarkable increase in the number of customers,” says Dang Duy Hai, deputy general manager of the hotel.

The same thing happened with other travel agencies. The number of visitors from Singapore and Malaysia catered to by Travelink Co. increased slightly compared to the previous season. Especially, the number of Chinese travelers coming to HCMC by air dropped by half.

In the January-July period, there were 3.43 million international visitors coming to Vietnam, increasing by 17.3% year on year, but this growth rate is much lower than the level of 34.9% recorded in the same period last year.

Most businesses agree that apart from some disadvantages such as infrastructure and services, policies to develop the market in general are not effective enough to promote tourism images of Vietnam. In reality, they say, the industry has yet to connect promotion programs with exclusive products of their own market to lure customers.

“If we try to promote Vietnam as a destination for nice seaside or sightseeing, all efforts will be worthless if such promotions are not backed up by services. We need to follow Thailand’s and Singapore’s examples to set up direct air, services, especially attractive programs and introduce them to clients,” a director suggests.

“So far we have failed to prepare enough services and promotions before approaching the target markets. We will likely miss the chance again when Vietnam Airlines opens first direct flights to Britain in early December, since there is no corresponding program along with special products available,” he reckons.

Source: SGT


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