TRAVEL IN BRIEF 8/7

Jetstar Pacific to add 194 flights during summer holiday

Budget airline Jetstar Pacific announced yesterday that it will offer 194 additional flights from July 19 to August 31 to meet increased travel demand during the summer holidays.

The carrier will add one flight daily on its Ho Chi Minh City - Da Nang and Hanoi – Da Nang routes, and two flights each day on its Buon Ma Thuot – Vinh route.

As a result, Jetstar Pacific will provide up to 34,920 additional seats on its fleet of 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline is also offering special promotional prices. A one-way ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot is priced from VND199,000, while one-way journeys from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi or Hai Phong start at VND899,000.

Discounts apply to Ho Chi Minh City – Buon Ma Thuot flights from September 18 to October 3 and Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi/Hai Phong flights departing between August 13 and 27. Tickets are available at the airline’s website (http://www.jetstar.com).

The promotional programs aim to diversify prices on all Jetstar Pacific routes, to encourage passengers to book flights in advance, and to provide more options for travelling by air.

Egypt tours suspended over unrest

Several travel companies in HCMC have temporarily stopped arranging tours to Egypt due to unrest there.

Lien Bang Travelink, Saigontourist, TST Tourist and Ben Thanh Tourist have suspended Egypt tours. Some other companies still leave Egypt tours open but have attracted no bookings.

“We have stopped receiving bookings, waiting for the situation to improve. Bookings for Egypt tours are scant,” said Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travelink.

Halting Egypt tours leaves little impact on these tour operators because Egypt is just a small market for them.

Travel firms in HCMC often combine Egypt and Dubai tours, quoting such tours at some VND50 million per person.

Viettours said it does not suspend tours to Egypt, but so far no one has booked.

HCM City to host Exchange Program for Tourism Students of GMS

Ho Chi Minh City will host an Exchange Program for tourism students for the development of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, scheduled to take place from August 27-31.

Student groups from Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Vientiane (Laos), Yangon (Myanmar), Bangkok (Thailand) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) will participate in the event.

The program is being organized after a successful meeting of Mekong Sub-Regional Tourism Cities in HCMC last September.

Tourism officials of Lao, Cambodia and Vietnam gathered at the meeting and signed a mutual agreement on organizing tourism conferences every year to cooperate and develop the Greater Mekong Sub-Region; strengthen training of human resources for tourism; encourage cultural exchanges and activities; and preserve the traditional customs and cultures of the three countries.

The conference was one of the many activities during the 8th International Travel Expo-Ho Chi Minh City (ITE-HCMC) in 2012.

Quang Nam boosts inland tourism

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Quang Nam Provincial People's Committee held a July 5 seminar in Tam Ky City to discuss the promotion of inland tourism activities.

The project, funded by the Luxembourg Government, has been running since 2011.

The seminar’s contributors included ILO experts, project coordinators, tour guides, and local residents.

They shared their experience of community-based tourism models—models that prioritise preserving tangible and intangible culture in a sustainable manner, helping the Quang Nam tourism industry generate employment for its citizens.

The seminar is also a good opportunity to attract investment local tourism and brief neighbouring provinces and countries on its innovative model for the tourism industry.

More summer flights launched

Many air carriers have launched more flights between big cities such as HCMC, Danang and Hanoi to meet the rising demand of passengers during summer.

Low-cost air carrier Jetstar Pacific said on Thursday that it would launch 194 more flights with 35,000 additional seats using the Airbus A320 to meet the increasing demand of travelers.

Between July 19 and August 31, there will be one more flight between HCMC and Hanoi City and from HCMC to Danang City everyday, raising the total number of round trips between HCMC and Danang to four and between Hanoi and Danang to two each day.

Besides, Jetstar Pacific will add two more flights from Buon Ma Thuot to Vinh each week, taking to five the total number of trips between the two destinations every week.

Earlier, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced to add over 3,600 flights, or 700,000 seats between June 1 and August 31. VietjetAir will also launch 1,600 more flights, equivalent to around 300,000 seats, between May 20 and August 31.

Da Nang, Nha Trang popular among tourists

The number of tourists visiting two central coastal cities, Da Nang and Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa province), has so far risen by 16 percent and 20 percent compared with the same period last year, authorities have reported.

In the first half of the year, Da Nang received 400,000 foreign visitors, up by 11.4 percent year-on-year. The city also received 1.15 million local tourists, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent.

According to the Da Nang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the city's tourism industry attained revenue of over 3.6 trillion VND (172 million USD), up 23.7 percent over the same period last year.

Da Nang welcomed 53 cruise ships with a total of 60,000 cruise travellers to the city, up 67 percent over last year.

Flights between Da Nang and Hong Kong, Wenzhou and Chengdu in China, brought the number of visitors to 117,000, an increase of 94.2 percent compared with the first half of 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals to central coastal province of Khanh Hoa in the first six months of the year was estimated at 5.4 million.

According to figures from Khanh Hoa's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the province provided accommodations to 1.4 million visitors, an increase of 20 percent compared with last year. The figure includes 309,000 foreign travellers, a year-on-year surge of 19 percent.

In the first half of 2013, the city's tourism sector attained revenue of nearly 1.5 trillion VND (70.6 million USD), a rise of 19 percent over last year.

The new direct-air services between Khanh Hoa province and Russia in the past two years resulted in an increase of 50 percent of Russian visitors.

Russians form a large majority of visitors to Khanh Hoa, contributing over 50 percent of the revenue of the province's tourism industry.

Foreign arrivals surge in busy June

More than 567,000 international visitors arrived in Vietnam in June, a 30 percent rise over the same month last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

As a result, the total number of foreign arrivals during the first six months of the year exceeded 3.54 million, a year-on-year increase of 2.6 percent.

More than 2.8 million arrived by air, up 0.8 percent year on year, while over 120,000 arrived by sea (up 2.7 percent) and 561,000 by land (up 12.5 percent).

Over 2.16 million visitors came to the country as tourists, accounting for 61 percent of total visitors, followed by business travellers and those who visited relatives.

Tourists from Russia saw a 58 percent rise in number, followed by those from Thailand (24 percent), Indonesia (21.5 percent) and mainland China (21 percent).

Despite economic difficulties, the administration remained optimistic that the tourism market would recover in the upcoming months.

The number of visitors continued to increase in spite of a 1.4 percent fall in the first five months of the year.

The domestic tourism industry is working with foreign agencies to create new tours and routes to attract more foreign tourists, according to the Vietnam Administration of Tourism.

The sector expects to receive about 7.2 million foreign visitors this year, an increase of 5.15 percent, and to serve about 35 million domestic tourists (a surge of 7.69 percent).

Foreign visitors spent an average of nine days in Vietnam . They also poured a relatively big amount of foreign currency into the economy, spending an average of 1,002 USD per arrival last year, much higher than in 2005, when the average spending was 661 USD per arrival.

Tourists paid the most for accommodations, which accounted for 27 percent of total spending, followed by food (20 percent), travel (17 percent) and goods purchasing (15 percent).

Tourists from Japan spent the most: 167 USD per day per person. They were followed by those from Indonesia , Malaysia , Singapore , the Republic of Korea , Thailand and the Philippines .

The country earned 6.83 billion USD last year from tourist spending, equivalent to 70 percent of overseas national currency exchange.

 Hue attracts 1.5 million tourists in first half

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue welcomed almost 1.5 million guests in the January-June period, earning over VND1.2 trillion (US$72 million) in revenue, which is 111.32% higher than the same period last year.

The province’s preset goal of receiving 2.5 million tourists is likely to become real when the number of arrivals kept rising in recent time, according to the Vietnam Government Portal (VGP).

In the way to achieve that, the local authorities have carried out a spat of stimulus measures, paving the way for travel agents, hotels, restaurants and tourism sites to make their products competitive. They have also given due attention to bettering local infrastructure and services.

Besides conventional tours to the Hue Imperial Citadel, a world cultural heritage, new tourist types of home-stays and tours to historical and cultural museums are offered to visitors.

Earlier, the 2013 Hue Traditional Craft Festival, which was jointly held by the Museum of Hue Centre and Bargoin Museum from Clermont-Ferrand, France, reflected the authorities’ efforts.

The festival displayed 80 unique hand weaving samples which represents the development process of the world garment and textile industry and skills of five continents, drawing a large number of visitors near and far.

Cathay Pacific, Dragonair win awards

Cathay Pacific Airways has been awarded the "World's Best Cabin Staff" and "Best Transpacific Airline" in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards programme.

It enjoyed more than 18 million airline passengers from around the world voting for their favourite travel experiences.

Its affiliate Dragonair was voted "World's Best Regional Airline" in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards programme for the third time. Dragonair was also named "Best Regional Airline in Asia" in the same survey.

Skytrax is acknowledged as running one of the most comprehensive customer satisfaction surveys in the airline industry. Airline passengers from more than 160 countries participated in the latest survey, which covered more than 200 airlines worldwide.

The survey measures standards across 41 key performance indicators of airline products and services.

Heritage preservation and promotion a major target

The north-central region is a land of natural, cultural and historical heritage which needs to be protected and promoted, according to Nguyen Xuan Duong, chairman of the Nghe An People's Committee.

Duong told a workshop yesterday that the work would accelerate regional heritage tourism and economic development.

Entitled "Cultural and Natural Heritage in the North-Central Region – Preservation and Promotion", the workshop was held in the central province of Nghe An by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences with the participation of many experts from around the country.

The region, consisting of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces, has four heritage sites recognised by the UNESCO. They are the Ho Dynasty Citadel in Thanh Hoa, the complex of Hue monuments, Hue's nha nhac (royal music) and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Nam.

It also has many other national relics.

The workshop provided a chance to assess the heritages and recommend preservation and promotion methods.

On the same day, a seminar on the connection between contemporary art and heritage was held at the Ha Noi College of Fine Arts.

It was part of a project to research, collect and promote the value of communal houses in the northern region's villages, carried out since last year by artists and researchers led by researcher Bui Thi Thanh Mai.

The major points discussed were Vietnamese contemporary art in relation with heritage, experience in approaching heritage in regional and worldwide contemporary art and the role of heritage in art creativity.

"Contemporary art often involves problems of a modern society such as violence, sexuality and pollution, while traditional culture is ignored. I'm interested in the way contemporary artists inherit and apply heritage values in their artworks," Mai said.

"When artists express their concern with heritage and tradition, their artworks will be more humane, have good influence on the community and contribute to the society's development."

Source: VOV/VNA/VNS/Nhan Dan/SGT
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