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Oct 19 2011

Tour operators downbeat on int’l arrivals

tour operators downbeat on int%e2%80%99l arrivals
Most tour operators in the inbound segment worry about a fall in international visitor arrivals though the high season has started, as the global economic slump has taken its toll on the hospitality industry.

The high season for inbound tourism lasts from October to March, but the number of customers from Asian markets this season is estimated to fall 20%-30% year-on-year at Lac Hong Voyages Co., Ltd.
Similarly, Vietravel has recorded a sharp fall in the number of tourists from Europe and the United States. Some other tour operators forecast a slump of up to 30% in arrivals from Europe.

“Sometimes, we receive no bookings from customers even though we have done our best to attract them,” said Vietravel’s general director Nguyen Quoc Ky.

The global crisis has forced many travelers to cut down on spending, he said.

Europe known as the main visitor-generating market for Vietnam is now mired in the sovereign debt crisis, while Japan among other Northeast Asian nations is suffering from heavy damages caused by natural disasters.

Travel firms also attributed the fall in foreign visitors to the uncompetitive price on the local tourism market coupled with boring tourism products.

Most travel agencies reported a price hike of at least 15%-25% for package tours compared to the same period last year. Consequently, the local industry players find it hard to compete with foreign rivals who offer customers better prices.

“In other countries, when the price of gasoline increases, members in the tourism industry join forces together to overcome the difficulty, which hasn’t been seen in Vietnam so far,” Ky of Vietravel complained.

Another woe of the domestic tourism industry is poor products, pointed out Tran Vinh Loc, director of Lac Hong Voyages.

Local travel agencies have merely offered tours based on natural attractions along with shopping venues only, instead of arranging attractive entertainment services and other night programs for visitors.

Loc took the case of South Korea and Thailand as examples, in which the former offers a wide selection of shows to travelers and the latter often enriches its artistic programs with the participation of foreign art troupes in a bid to lure tourists.

“Given poor programs, we have failed to satisfy our customers who are offered only the Cu Chi Tunnels-Binh Tay Market-Ben Thanh Market route for one-day travel,” Loc said.

SGT

Oct 17 2011

Big hotel chains snub Tourism Awards

big hotel chains snub tourism awards
Famous hotel brands such as Sheraton, Sofitel and Hilton snubbed the Vietnam Tourism Awards 2010 which announced its winners last week.

Any hotels keen to win awards have to register and then be examined by Vietnam Tourism Association or local tourism management agencies.

However, several five-star international hotels did not apply, according to Vietnam Tourism Association.

Saigontourist Holding Co. has up to 12 hotels earning awards with New World, Caravelle, Rex, Majestic, Palace, Grand, Yasaka Saigon Nha Trang, De Nhat, Continental, Saigon-Halong, Saigon-Phu Quoc Resort and Bong Sen.

The top 10 five-star hotels were New World, Caravelle, Rex, Renaissance Riverside, Hanoi Daewoo, Majestic, Ana Mandara, Vinpearl Resort and Spa, Windsor Plaza and Six Senses Ninh Van Bay.

The top 10 four-star hotels were Palace, Grand, Yasaka Saigon Nha Trang, De Nhat, Continental, Hoi An Beach Resort, Saigon-Halong, Palace, Saigon-Phu Quoc Resort and Lang Tre Mui Ne Tourist Site.

The top 10 three-star hotels were Bong Sen, Victory, Vien Dong, Vung Tau Intourco Resort, Hoa Binh, Petro Song Tra, Rex, Festival, Cuu Long and Cong Doan Vietnam.

The annual tourism awards are granted based on criteria of room occupancy rate, business result, food hygiene and safety and environment hygiene.

Together with granting Vietnam’s leading hotels in 2010, the association has also announced leading tour operator awards.

Winners received their awards at the Hanoi Opera House on October 17.

SGT

Oct 17 2011

Saigon’s trade streets

saigon%e2%80%99s trade streets

ietNamNet Bridge – Saigon has streets of Chinese traditional medicines, ornamental birds and fish, wedding invitation cards, etc.

Nguyen Thong has been the street for ornamental fish, fish tanks and everything related to ornamental
fish for around 20 years.


Trieu Quang Phuc Road is the home for scissors making and repairing enterprises
and scissors shops for 35 years.


3/2 and Nguyen Dinh Chieu roads are called the “happy roads” because there are many
shops providing wedding services there.


Nguyen Thien Thuat Street in district 3 is the street for musical instruments. Many shops
have been working for 30-40 years.


Ly Thai To is the street for wedding invitation cards.


Le Thanh Ton street in district 1 is the street for shoe repair.


Le Hong Phong road in district 10 is the street for ornamental birds and pets.


Hai Thuong Lan Ong is the street for Chinese traditional medicines.

VNE

Oct 11 2011

Jetstar Pacific suspends Hanoi-Nha Trang service

jetstar pacific suspends hanoi nha trang service
VietNamNet Bridge – Jetstar Pacific Airlines has called off its daily flights between Hanoi and Nha Trang City after more than three months of flying to the city in Khanh Hoa Province in summer.

The local low-cost carrier confirmed suspension of the flights between Noi Bai Airport and Cam Ranh Airport that it began in late May this year, attributing to low seating occupancy after the National Day holiday from September 2 to 4.

According to airlines and travel firms, demand for air demand increased dramatically for the flights from Hanoi to Danang, Nha Trang, Hue, Phu Quoc and Con Dao, and vice versa last summer when tourists flocked to seaside sites for their vacations.

Daily flights with high factor enabled Jetstar Pacific to register a year-on-year rise of 14% to around 1.3 million passengers in the first seven months of this year. In this period, the second biggest carrier operated more than 8,100 domestic flights.
Jetstar Pacific said the Hanoi-Nha Trang service suspension had not impacted on passengers and travel companies as they were informed in advance of its plan to operate flights between Noi Bai and Cam Ranh airports before it serviced this route on May 24. The airline also blocked bookings for this route after September 4.

Last year, Jetstar Pacific flew between the capital city and the central coast city of Khanh Hoa Province within three months to make full use of high travel demand in summer. The airline suspended this route in other periods of the year.

Currently, Jetstar Pacific has flights to Danang, Hue and Vinh in central Vietnam. The country’s second largest carrier operates approximately 40 daily domestic flights a day, including those to and from HCMC, Hanoi and Haiphong cities.

Vietnam Airlines is now the only operator of daily service between Hanoi and Nha Trang. This national flag air carrier performs three daily return flights between the two destinations.

SGT

Oct 02 2011

Visitor numbers soar 15 per cent in first 9 nine months

visitor numbers soar 15 per cent in first 9 nine months

Vietnam welcomed 4.3 million international visitors in the first nine months of this year, a surge of 15.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

According to the General Statistics Office, almost all foreign sources of Vietnamese tourism saw year-on-year increases during the perio. Visitors from China rose by a huge 45 per cent to 980,000, South Koreans by 4 per cent to 380,000 and Japanese by 8.2 per cent to 340,000. Other sources such as Taiwan, the United States and France also recorded positive growths.

Vietnam hopes that good promotions will attract 5.5 million international tourists by the year’s end, 500,000 more than last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

As one such effort, VNAT last week arranged for 55 domestic tourism companies to participate in “Vietnamese Cultural Days in Russia “.

“Vietnam’s tourism sector is always willing to offer the best services and products to Russian tourists,” said head of VNAT Nguyen Anh Tuan.

Tuan was speaking on the sidelines of a conference to publicise Vietnam’s tourism potential in Saint Petersburg as part of “The Vietnamese Cultural Days in Russia “.

Tuan called on the two countries’ airlines and travel agencies to co-operate in offering new tourism products, helping the two peoples explore destinations in each country.

Vietnam is regaining special attention from Russian visitors, thanks to its warmer climate, long coastline, friendly people and low-priced services, said chairman of the Saint Petersburg ‘s Committee for Investment and Strategic Projects, Aleksei Trichkanov.

He proposed that the two sides open a direct air-route from Vietnam to Saint Petersburg , saying that it would increase travel to both countries.

Last year, Vietnam welcomed almost 83,000 Russian visitors, up 50 per cent over 2009. This year, as many as 120,000 Russian tourists are expected to come to visit.

Source: VNA

Oct 01 2011

Hạ Long Bay enters New7Wonders final

h%e1%ba%a1 long bay enters new7wonders final

President of the NewopenWorld Bernaro on September 27 in the northern province of Quảng Ninh handed over a certificate to local authorities to confirm that Hạ Long Bay entered the final round of the online poll for seven new world natural wonders (New7Wonders).

A corner of Hạ Long Bay – Illustration photo

Mr. Bernaro expressed his impression of the natural picturesque beauty of Hạ Long Bay, affirming that he would vote it for the UNESCO World Heritage Site. He also promised to send voting message to the outside world.

In the coming time, Quảng Ninh province will sprint to gather more votes for Hạ Long Bay, especially via short message service (SMS), said Mr. Phạm Minh Chính, Quảng Ninh Provincial Party Secretary.

In addition, Quảng Ninh will invest more in tourism activities and preserve the environment for Hạ Long Bay to become an attractive and impressive destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

NewopenWorld will officially announce the voting outcomes of the New7Wonders on November 11, 2011./.


Source: VGP News

Sep 29 2011

Mu Cang Chai’s terraced fields in harvest season

mu cang chai%e2%80%99s terraced fields in harvest season

VietNamNet Bridge – Photographers flock to Mu Cang Chai district in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai–in the harvest season to grasp incredible moments of the terraced fields.

Mu Cang Chai is about 300km away from Hanoi, to the northwest. The location has been closer and more famous for domestic and overseas travelers. Overseas backpackers and photographers usually tramp to Yen Bai just to witness the terraced fields, enjoy fresh air, taking nice and splendid photos.

September and October are the finest months in Mu Cang Chai and also the most attractive month to tourists and travelers.

The rice terraced fields of Mu Cang Chai have been recognized as a national heritage site.

Hoang Hac

Sep 23 2011

Vietnam prepares for “four countries – on destination” program

vietnam prepares for %e2%80%9cfour countries %e2%80%93 on destination%e2%80%9d program

VietNamNet Bridge – The fact that four countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar join forces to develop tourism is believed to bring new big opportunities to travel firms. However, there are still many things to be done in order to reap the fruits.

New opportunities

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The participants at the 7th International Tourism Exhibition (ITE) held in HCM City several days ago all forecast a new wave of investments in infrastructure, hotels, resorts and entertainment complexes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in the time to come. Therefore, joining forces in the “four countries – one destination” program will clearly help attract more international investors.

The Lao General Department of Tourism said that the country now has 1028 tourism sites which are awaiting investments. Laos allows to have 100 percent foreign ownership ratio in hotels and restaurants, and 30-70 percent foreign ownership ratios in the travel firms. Tourism is the second foreign currency earner, just after to mining, in Laos, where the tourism growth rate has been stable in the last 20 years at 29 percent per annum.

In Myanmar, investors need to have at least 300,000 dollars to set up a legal entity in the service sector. Foreign investors can team up with domestic companies to set up joint ventures, while they have to contribute at least 35 percent of capital. Myanmar now has 36 hotel projects with 6560 hotel rooms, of which 31 projects have been completed.

The international tourism organization has forecast that the tourists in the world tend to flock to South East Asia and East Asia. In 2010, the region surpassed America to become the second biggest region in the world, just after Europe, in terms of the tourists, accounting for 22 percent of the world’s market share. Meanwhile, the figure is expected to increase to 27 percent by 2020.

Statistics show that ASEAN now attracts 36 percent of the total number of tourists worldwide, and 38 percent of the total revenue from tourism industry in the region.

Analysts have also pointed out that joining forces with regional countries to develop tourism is a wise move. The national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines said that four out of every 10 international tourists to Vietnam tend to visit many different destinations, and three of them choose to visit Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar.

Great efforts needed

This is not for the first time regional countries sit together to discuss the cooperation for tourism development. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia once put forward the idea of joining forces to attract tourists. A project on the tourism sustainable development in Mekong sub-region was initiated and funded by ADB, which aimed to develop infrastructure for tourism and push up the sub-regional cooperation. However, the initial achievements remain modest

Therefore, Vietnamese travel firms say they need to prepare well for the “four countries – one nation program). Tran Hung Viet, General Director of Saigontourist, said that the travel firm has conducted a program on surveying the trans-Indochina and Myanmar tours, and has released the publications providing information about the four countries.

Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines has increased the frequency of the flights on the air routes to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Vientiane in Laos to 106 flights per week from 59 flights currently.

Vuong Dinh Hai from CFIS Vietnam, a foreign investment research center, said that it is necessary to make heavier investment in infrastructure in order to pave the way for tourism development. More and more tourists travel to Vietnam by sea, while cruises still have to dock at cargo ports, because there still are no specific ports for receiving tourists.

Meanwhile, there has been no legal document on the development of the ports for tourism. The overall strategy on seaport development until 2020 also does not show the investment scale and the details of the tourism ports.

Source: TBKTVN

Sep 21 2011

A “cultural death” threatens Vietnam’s tourism

a %e2%80%9ccultural death%e2%80%9d threatens vietnam%e2%80%99s tourism

VietNamNet Bridge – The tourism industry has developed robustly in recent years and it has tried to take advantage of Vietnamese landscape and cultural identity to serve tourists. However, unorganized and unfriendly exploitation has unintentionally killed “cultural beauties”.

Let’s analyze Lach (or Làc, Lat, M’Lates) ethnic group’s tourism project as a typical example.

Lach people have developed tourism based on their unique culture. However, their culture is being commercialized and Lac people are losing their cultural cream. This is similar to other ethnic groups in Vietnam.

Lach is a small group of Koho people who have lived in Lang Biang plateau, Da Lat city, for hundreds of years. “Lach” means “sparse forest”. The original name of Da Lat city (Da Lach) is sourced from this world. Da Lach means the land of Lach people.

A group of journalist paid a visit to the village of Lach people in Da Lat to learn about their “tourism business”.

Journalists were welcomed warmly at a small yard, covered by iron roof, with a pile of wood in the middle, surrounded by plastic chairs, in the sound of music. The rainy weather did not affect the meeting because Lach people are very experienced at welcoming visitors.

The program began when a man – an MC stepped out and spoke in local language. The MC translated his speech in Vietnamese. The meeting was very funny and jubilant thanks to the talent of the MC, who is very professional. Visitors also sang and danced with him. However, the meeting is similar as a show in Hanoi and the MC looked like an actor who plays the role of an ethnic man. This is the first line of an announcement about the death of “culture”.

Why do tourists visit Lach people’s village? They do not go there to watch a modern show with a professional MC, but to discover the life and culture of Lach people.

The culture of Lach people may not die in form when Lach people sing their folk songs or perform their traditional dances on a modern stage. However, the soul of these folk songs and traditional dances has been dead.

The culture of Lach people is losing in oblivion, though their life has been improved a lot, thanks to tourism services. Nowadays, tourists will no longer have a chance to enjoy original sounds of gongs, Kombuat, ceng korla – traditional musical instruments of Lach people, but only Lach people’s music from CDs.

The threat of a “cultural death” is obvious at the village of Lach people. This threat is also present at many other villages of ethnic groups in Vietnam, along with the development of tourism – the non-smoke industry.

Truong Hong Tu

Sep 21 2011

Secrets of mummies in Vietnam

secrets of mummies in vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – Behind mummies’ hundred-year sleeps are great secrets. In Vietnam, many ancient tombs have been unearthed, revealing unique embalmment methods.

Dong Nai: 200-year-old mummy unveiled

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the southern province of Dong Nai has announced the discovery of a mummified woman in an ancient tomb in Cau Xeo commune in Long Thanh district on September 16, 2011.

The department was excavating an ancient tomb site for clearance, to facilitate construction of the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway road, when they unearthed the 200-year-old mummy.

The excavation team was led by Professor Pham Duc Manh from the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and renowned archeologist Do Dinh Truat. The mummified remains of the woman as well as its coffin have been preserved and brought to the museum.

Scientists said that the tomb had a secretive rectangular chamber. The tomb was 8.5 meters long including its wall and 4.5 meters wide. The coffin was shaped like a semicircle. It was adorned with a floral patterned cloth and the mummy was wrapped in cloth of a lotus leaf print.

After studying the structure of the tomb chamber and the coffin, archeologists came to the conclusion that the mummy was of noble birth during the Nguyen Dynasty.

Archaeologists will now conduct further research on the mummy along with medical experts from the University of Medicine in HCM City.

Mummy of the later Le dynasty in Nam Dinh

On April 1, 2011, building workers discovered five tombs while building a road in Lien Bao commune, Nam Dinh province. Four of the five tombs are modern, with coffins being worm-eaten. The last tomb has special structure.

The tomb was excavated on September 15 by experts from the Nam Dinh Museum and Dr. Nguyen Lan Cuong, Secretary General of the Vietnam Archaeology Association. The excavation was finalized on September 17.

This is the smallest composite tomb discovered in Viet Nam so far, Nguyen Lan Cuong, said deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Archaeology Association.

The outer coffin was 107cm in length, 36cm in width and 40cm in height, while the inner coffin was 94.5cm in length, 27.3cm in width and 33.4cm in height. The compound was said to consist of lime, molasses, sand and charcoal with a piece of cloth used to enclose the contents.

Archaeologists found a skull and bones, affirming their thought that it was an exhumation tomb. Based on initial studies of the relics unearthed, Cuong supposed that the tomb was built around 300 years ago in the later Le dynasty (1533-1788).

This is the first time researchers have identified oil used to embalm the body. The archaeology crew took the oil and specimens in for research: the bones were put in an oblong earthenware container for reburial and brought to the regional cemetery, while the coffin was displayed at Nam Dinh Museum.

Ancient tomb destroyed in Hung Yen

In late 2007, a private company named Phuc Nga destroyed an ancient tomb in Yen My district, Hung Yen province. According to workers who were involved in destroying the tomb–this ancient tomb was built by a compound of oyster shells, lime, stone powder, etc. The company hired a dozen of workers and used drilling machines to work for three days to break the tomb.

There was a red coffin inside the tomb. The coffin was covered by liquid of over 50cm high. When the coffin was opened, the fragrance of perfume spread over a vast area.

There was the body of an old man inside the coffin. The man is around 1.60m tall. He looked like being buried for not a long time. His hairs and eyebrow were untouched. His skin was soft and ruddy. The mummy was covered by many layers of cloths and wore a long pair of booths.

Believing that the mummy was buried with gold and jewelries, people cut off cloths and clothes of the mummy to seek gold. They took many items buried with the mummy, including hundreds of ancient coins.

The body was then buried in a ready-made tomb build by the private firm. However, the ready-made tomb was built to contain bones while the body was intact, so workers broke off bones to put the body into the tomb.

According to locals, this is the tomb of a duke of the Le dynasty. The public was very discontented over the case.

Mummy in perfume in Hanoi


Ancient coins burried with the mummy in Hung Yen province.

This ancient tomb was also destroyed by a group of people without permission of the authorities. This tomb was discovered in April 2005 in a peach garden in Nhat Tan, Hanoi.

The tomb had three layers. The outer layer is 1.5cm thick, made by mortar, molasses, sticky rice powder and do paper. The second layer is the outer coffin, made of wood, 9cm thick. The coffin is made by canary wood of 10cm thick. The mummy was a man of 60 years old. The mummy was covered by cloths and soaked in perfume. The mummy was exposed by workers before archaeologists arrived.

The mummy was buried with three pillows, a pair of boots, four silk blouses, 10 brocade blouses, 9 ao liem (blouse for the dead), two cloth bags. Items show that the mummy is a rich man in the late 18th century. The mummy was buried at the Nhat Tan Cemetery in May 2005.

The ancient tombs in Hung Yen and Hanoi are two among many ancient tombs that were destroyed by poorly-educated people.

Le Ngoc

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