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Four nations to plug world heritage sites

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Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will co-operate with each other in organising tours to their world cultural heritage sites, officials said at a seminar on Tuesday.

The seminar focused on ways to present the four nations together as the Land of World Cultural Heritages.

"I highly recommend connecting the world cultural heritages in a special tour of the four countries," said Nguyen Quy Phuong, director of the Travel Department under the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.

He said the seminar offered the opportunity to promote and introduce the tourism potentials of Viet Nam and the neighboring countries to international visitors, travel agencies and the international media personnel attending the four-day International Travel Exhibition HCMC 2011.

Nim Sovann, deputy director of the Marketing and Promotion Department of Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism, emphasized the country's strength in cultural heritages, led by Angkor Wat Temple complex that has been declared a Heritage of Humanity and a World Wonder since 1992.

He also drew attention to the Sacred Site of Preah Vihear Temple - a World Heritage since 2008.

He said the country also had a lot of favourite destinations, including the Bayon Temple; Ta Prom Temple; Gate of Angkor Thom; Banteay Srel Temple; Phnom Penh City; Cambodian Bay - a member of "The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club"; as well as Prek Toal - the biggest natural reserve in Southeast Asia.

Phouthasinh Saythirath, managing director of DDD Travel of Laos, highlighted the two world heritage sites in his country – Luang Prabang, the former capital city, known as the seat of Lao culture with monasteries and monuments galore.

Vat Phou Champasak is one of the Southeast Asia's best examples of both early and classic Khmer architecture dating back to 7th-12th centuries, Sythirath said.

Hla Aye, managing director of ShanYama Travels & Tours, introduced Myanmar as a "golden land".

He mentioned Yangon city with its famous Shwedagon pagoda, Mandalay - the royal capital of the last dynasty in central Myanmar, Mrauk-Oo - ancient capital of Rakhine Kingdom and Bagan - land of ancient pagodas.

Bui Viet Thuy Tien, managing director of Asian Trails, said Viet Nam could boast both tangible and intangible heritages that have received UNESCO recognition.

The world cultural heritages of Viet Nam include the complex of monuments in Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An, the My Son sanctuary, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and the Ho Dynasty Citadel.

Among the intangible cultural heritages that the country has are: Nha nhac (court music), the gong culture, the Quan ho Bac Ninh folk songs and Ca Tru (ceremonial songs).

Doan Quang Huy, deputy general manager, Sales and Marketing Department, said the airline had a fast growing international network with 73-aircraft fleet that reaches 27 international destinations and 20 domestic destinations.

It expected to become the second largest airline in Southeast Asia with 170 flights to 53 international destinations and 23 domestic destinations by 2020, Huy said.

The airlines' long-term policy included supporting overseas agents to sell tours to the four countries by offering special airfares for travel agents to promote the four countries.

It planned to make Viet Nam the major gateway to the four countries by expanding its network to high volume markets in Northeast Asia, Europe and North America, Huy said.

Viet Nam Airlines would launch direct flights to Africa in 2019, Huy said.

Delta has great potential

Also on Tuesday, another seminar was held at the International Tourism Investment Promotion Conference "Four Countries – One Destination" 2011 to promote Viet Nam and regional countries Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as a single tourism destination.

"The Mekong Delta has great potential for tourism," said Nguyen Phong Quang, deputy chief of the committee, and chief of the Steering Committee of the Mekong Delta Economic Co-operation - Ca Mau 2011.

"It is original and different from all other regions of the country."

In 2001-10, the number of visitors to the Mekong Delta grew at an annual average of 11 per cent, while foreign arrivals grew 16 per cent.

However, Pham Thanh Tuoi, chairman of Ca Mau Province People's Committee, said this growth was weak considering the area's advantages.

He blamed it on the inadequacy of the tourism infrastructure and lack of connectivity between tourism products and services in various provinces.

Other delegates concurred that the region could not achieve a breakthrough because of the poor tourism infrastructure.

Dong Thap Province, for instance, has a lot of interesting destinations like Tram Chim National Park, Sa Dec bonsai village and Gao Giong Eco-tourism Park.

But a representative of a travel agent in the province pointed out: "The distance between HCM City and the province is not far, but it is hard to get there due to the bad road."

"There are tourism products in Dong Thap but mostly sub-standard."

Le Minh Hoang of the Kien Giang Province's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the biggest difficulty the region faced in developing tourism was creating distinct products.

"The products tend to be similar because of their similarities due to the waterways," he explained.

The head of the Viet Nam National Tourism Administration Nguyen Van Tuan said the region needed a breakthrough in resolving four basic problems: infrastructure, tourism specialities, regional co-operation and human resources.

"The localities themselves have to find the money to develop infrastructure. The Government can only help with strategies."

Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the HCM City People's Committee, warned: "There will be no attractive tourism products without co-operation between provinces in the region."

VNS





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