HCM City agrees to set up tourism department
The HCM City administration has approved a decision to set up a Tourism Department effective October 16.
The new tourism department will be separate from the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The city's People's Committee will have oversight over the department, which will undertake activities related to state management of tourism, such as assessment of applications for international travel business licenses and rankings of hotels and guesthouses.
The department will work with government agencies to set up models to ensure social security and safety for tourists and promote environmental protection at tourism spots.
One of the country's leading tourism centres, HCM City's annual turnover from tourism accounts for 47 per cent of the national figure. Tourism contributes 11 per cent to the city's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Muong Lo cultural, sports and tourism week to take place
The northern province of Yen Bai will hold the Culture, Sports and Tourism Week of Muong Lo 2014 on October 16-20.
Themed Muong Lo – Colour of Autumn, the event will have many activities such as art performances, sport competitions, a buffalo fighting festival and a cuisine and trade fair that introduces food of Thai, Muong and Tay ethnic minorities.
On opening night, more than 1,000 Thai people will participate in a mass performance of Thai folk dance.
Located in Nghia Lo Town, Muong Lo is known as one of the four most beautiful valleys in the northwestern region.
Tu Na bird garden attracts tourists in flood season
The Tu Na bird garden in the southernmost province of Ca Mau is a popular destination for tourists, especially during the flood season.
Located near Nam Can Town, Tu Na is one of the few bird gardens in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta that has a large number of bird species. It is home to about 100,000 birds of 74 bird species.
The white storks can often be seen perching on green trees or flying above the garden.
Untouched Ba Lua islands offer pristine scenery
With more than 40 islands, the Ba Lua island group in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kien Giang is a beautiful destination worth seeking out.
Located in Kien Luong District, Ba Lua, dubbed as a small Ha Long Bay in the south, has clean beaches, vast green trees, beautiful mountains and fresh air.
The most well-known of the islands are situated together, Hon Gieng, Hon Duoc and Hon Duong, forming a shallow bay. During low tide, people can wade through the bay from one island to the other as the water is only 80cm deep. Only a few families live on the islands.
To get to the islands, visitors should go to Hon Trem tourism area in Binh An Commune and take a boat. Lucky tourists can sometimes see dolphins.
Only about 10 islands in Ba Lua have inhabitants, with a total of 500 families.
Vietnam Airlines to add 1,200 flights for Tet holiday
The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, plans to add 1,200 flights from January 28, 2015 to March 18, 2015 to meet the increased demand for air travel and reduce airport overload during Tet holiday.
The carrier plans to conduct 18,900 flights in the weeks around Tet, an increase of 12% from the normal schedule.
The additional flights include 260 flights on the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City route, using bigger planes such as Airbus A321, A330 and Boeing 777; and nearly 340 flights on the Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh City route, with A321 aircraft. Extra flights will be also added on routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Vinh, Hai Phong, Pleiku, Buon Ma Thuot, Quy Nhon, Cam Ranh, Hue, Thanh Hoa and Phu Quoc; and from Hanoi to Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Phu Quoc and Vinh.
The carrier will also operate 36 additional flights on the routes from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to international destinations such as Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), and Kaohsiung, Taiwan (China).
A series of promotions will also be launched during the holiday to encourage passengers to book flights in advance while providing them with more options for air travel.
Vietnam Airlines began selling tickets on October 1, 2014 for travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday on domestic.
Da Nang receives 3 million visitors in 9 months
Central Da Nang City welcomed 3.02 million tourists over the recent nine months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 19%.
The number of foreign visitors reached 657,600, up 18.4%, with one thirds from China.
The city has attracted 71 projects in tourism with a total investment of US$8.1 billion, including 15 invested by foreigners, worth US$1.6 billion and 56 domestic projects, worth US$6.5 billion.
As many as 36 hotels have come into operation in the city over the past nine months, raising the total to 427 with 15,465 rooms.Seminar discusses sustainable tourism
A seminar in Hanoi on October 9 aimed to strengthen the performance of the EU-Vietnam Programme for Environmental and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development for the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) in furtherance of more sustainable tourism.
Jim Flannery, a tourism specialist from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), shared lessons and experiences about the role and mandates of typical tourism associations of nations in the world, such as Ireland and Thailand.
Flannery also analysed the problems facing tourism associations in Vietnam, including the shortage of funding, poor co-ordination and lack of a clear information channel.
Meanwhile, tourism in Vietnam has to face stiff competition from other nations in Southeast Asia and Asia in attracting international visitors. Therefore, the country should enhance the capacity of tourism bodies in both the private and public sector, he said.
Flannery also made a number of recommendations for tourism associations to improve their operations, noting that there should be clearer delineation of responsibilities of relevant agencies to avoid the inefficiencies and confusion caused by overlapping them.
Additionally, Vietnam should establish seven tourism regions and a separate association to operate in each region, as outlined in Vietnam’s Tourism Development Strategy until 2020 with a vision for 2030.
In addition, the country should agree on the goals, action plans, and funding for international marketing and advertising campaigns. The EU-Vietnam Programme for Environmental and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development is the biggest EU-funded project to help Vietnam improve its competitive edge and implement the country’s socio-economic plan.
The EUR11 million programme has been implemented by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in the 2011-2015 period.
Ninh Thuan in festive mood for Cham Kate festival
The Cham ethnic followers of Brahmin in the central province of Ninh Thuan are gearing up for the annual Kate festival, an occasion for them to pay respect to gods, ancestors, national heroes and kings.
This is the largest festival in the year of the Cham ethnic community in Ninh Thuan, which takes place in the seventh month of the Cham people’s calendar.
Falling on October 23-25 this year, the festival will feature an array of traditional music and sport performances at temples and towers.
Local brocade weavers and pottery artisans as well as amateur singers and dancers are honing their skills to join competitions at their communes during the event.
Festival activities are held in three tower temples in Ninh Thuan province at the same time and on the same day. The rituals are similar in content.
It includes a ceremony to receive Goddess Po Nagar's costumes in Huu Duc hamlet, Phuoc Huu commune, Ninh Phuoc district.
Goddess Po Nagar is said to be the ancestor of the Cham people who taught them how to grow rice and cotton, weave clothing and carry out cultural activities in their daily lives.
All the royal costumes at Cham tower temples are kept by the Raglai people. Therefore, at the Kate festival, the Cham people have to perform a ceremony to welcome the Ragrai people who bring the costumes to the Cham tower temples.
Offerings to Goddess Po Nagar include betel and areca, eggs, chicken, fruits and Tet cake.
The festival is also an occasion where the participants can enjoy unique folk singing, dancing and music. They can dance with Cham people and relax with Gi nang drumming and Saranai trumpeting.
Apart from festive activities in the community, the Cham people also celebrate the festival in their families.
In the past, the festival usually lasted for one month in their families but today, it is shortened to three days.
On the first day, family members gather to prepare traditional cakes and offerings.
On the second day, they join rituals at pagodas.
On the third day, they conduct worship to implore ancestors and deities to support them in life.
On this occasion, each family prepares cakes and fruits to invite relatives and friends to visit and congratulate each other.
There are about 153,000 Cham people in Vietnam, including approximately 72,500 people in Ninh Thuan. O ver 43,000 of them, scattered across 12 communes in seven districts, follow the Brahmin religion.