To mark her thirtieth birthday, a Vietnamese woman spent US$3,000 on a tour of Son Doong Cave–the world largest cave.
Nguyen M.H, a freelance advertising executive working in Ho Chi Minh City, was determined to do something extraordinary to mark her thirtieth birthday.
She decided to spend US$3,000 on an adventure tour of Son Doong Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park with other Japanese and Canadian holidaymaker and US photographer Ryan Deboodt to see the inside of the world’s largest cave.
Earlier, a foreign tourist group had been the first to explore the Son Doong Cave.
Son Doong Cave is the world’s largest cave, located in Quang Binh Province near the Laos-Vietnam border. The name ‘Son Doong’ means ‘Mountain River Cave’.
VNA to increase flights during National Day holidays
Vietnam Airlines (VNA) has announced that it will increase several flights during the Vietnam National Day holidays from August 30 to September 3.
VNA will increase flights on 10 domestic routes, including Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi/ HCMC-Dong Hoi/ Da Nang/Nha Trang/ Phu Quoc, HCMC-Da Lat.
Vietnam Airlines will increase 285,623 seats on domestic and international flights, an increase of 22 percent compared with regular schedule, and an increase of 21 percent compared to the same period last year.
Vietnam looks to sharpen tourism image
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) highlighted the importance of the country becoming a competitive, professional trademark in the travel industry during a seminar last week on “Positioning the Vietnam Tourism Brand”.
The event was concerned with the implementation of Vietnam’s tourism strategy through 2020, with the vision toward 2030.
Speaking at the seminar, head of VNAT Nguyen Van Tuan, said that Vietnam needed to further develop as a tourism trademark and he stressed this as a key factor in regional competitiveness. Over the last several years, tourism growth and development has been inconsistent, with cultural and historic sites failing to popularise and a shaky national marketing platform.
Vu The Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, also noted that building Vietnam as a tourism brand was vital to the industry. He explained that there needs to be more cooperation between authorities, enterprises, associations and other groups to create a uniform plan and a comprehensive strategy to both attract visitors and, once in the country, provide them with a positive tourism experience.
Binh added that the industry introduced many promotions, marketed destinations and sites, and developed infrastructure, but had not done so consistently so as to present the Vietnam tourism brand in a clear way to international consumers.
“A national tourism brand is the same as any other product or service,” said Binh, “it needs to be apparent and attractive to consumers.”
Florian Sengstschmid, a branding expert from the EU’s Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme (ESRT), elaborated that Vietnam was not less attractive than other destinations. However, the problem seemed to be mostly with brand name and communication.
He shared four important elements for developing an effective tourism brand: logo, experience, images, and stories. He presented a sample logo “Vietnam – Timeless Charm” and explained that the country needed to better develop its tourism products, emphasise images of the tourism experience, and finally, develop a story that binds the concept together.
In August, more than 130 participants from 63 provincial departments of culture, sports and tourism, tourism promotion centres, and other relevant entities attended a series of intensive training courses on Tourism Destination Marketing, organised by the VNAT and supported by ESRT.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel said that to build national tourism brand, the industry would rather concentrate in the most key element- food to compete with other countries than invest in many things that would spend huge investment capital and time.
He added that Vietnam had a marketable niche with food. He explained that Vietnamese food was very popular around the world, and that as a tourism concept, it didn’t require significant investment or development.
Tran Van Long, general director of Viet Media Travel, shared a different viewpoint, saying that famous destinations such as Halong Bay and Phong Nha Cave were already popular and that Vietnam should emphasise these places to attract visitors for a first time and work towards developing others to give them a reason to return.
According to Tuan, the tourism strategy through 2020 is aimed at strengthening advertising campaigns and encouraging businesses and other organisations to work together to promote a consistent national tourism brand and concept. The tourism industry planned to serve 7.2 million international visitors and 35 million domestic tourists in 2013 with the revenue reaching $9.5 billion, an 18.75 per cent increase against 2012.
Hue moves to attract more tourists
The Hue Relics Conservation Centre will launch a tourism promotion month from September 2-30 to lure more tourists to the Complex of Hue Monuments, a world cultural heritage in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.
The programme marks 20 years since the complex was recognised as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO, said the centre’s director Phan Thanh Hai on August 22.
During the month, the centre will offer free tour guides to each group of up to 30 visitors, free tickets to students and a free electric bus service from Dai Noi (Mandarin’s House) to the Hue Royal Antique Museum.
Holidaymakers will also enjoy a 50 percent reduction in ticket prices for performances of nha nhac (Hue royal court music).
A number of exhibitions are scheduled to be held from September 6-30, showcasing administrative records of the Nguyen dynasty and other artefacts as well as photos capturing Vietnam’s world heritages.
The month also features field trips to cultural heritage sites, a painting contest, meetings, gala dinners, sports games and artistic performances.
The centre said by July 19, more than 1.14 million people, half of them from overseas, visited the Complex of Hue Monuments. Revenue from tourism exceeded 74 billion VND, or 70.7 percent of the yearly target.