MEKONG DELTA (VNS) — The ongoing economic crisis has not hit the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's tourism sector too hard, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Sai Gon Liberation) newspaper has reported.
|Buoyed: Two tourists visit the Phong Dien floating market in Can Tho. Tourism in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has withstood the ongoing economic crisis. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
The paper attributed this mainly to the "Four Countries-One Destination" tourism co-operation programme between Viet Nam and its three Indo-China neighbours to foster the Mekong Economic Corridor.
According to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Tourism Association, the region has welcomed 12.8 million visitors this year, a 6 per cent rise year-on-year. Revenues from tourism topped VND2.6 trillion (US$124 million), a whopping 25 per cent rise.
Kim Trang, a marketing executive at the Ha Noi Tourism Company office in HCM City, said: "The company serves five to six groups of around 30 tourists every month.
"They want to go to Can Tho to listen to don ca tai tu (a genre of folk music) on a boat, to visit fruit orchards, the Mac Cuu imperial tomb, and Ha Tien Beach."
"The delta has a unique position," an executive of the US-based Fantasy Tours said.
"For foreigners the Mekong River is very important because it runs through six countries and Viet Nam is the last. Tourists love to travel by boat, especially on the Can Tho -Phnom Penh route."
Fantasy Tours is among seven travel companies from the US and China who were on a familiarisation trip along with the China Eastern Airlines to Can Tho to consider starting a tour that will take in North America, Shanghai, HCM City, and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
Earlier this year the carrier arranged a tour of Shanghai and Viet Nam for overseas Vietnamese in the US and North America.
|At the beach: Ha Tien Beach is among the top attracttions in the Mekong Delta region. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan
It is considering adding Phnom Penh to the tour next year.
Another fam trip took travel companies from the delta, HCM City, and Ha Noi to the Bokor highlands in Cambodia.
Bokor is situated 60km from the Viet Nam border and at a height of 1,080m. It takes tourists around an hour by car to reach the top from where they can see the Gulf of Thailand and Phu Quoc island.
"Though infrastructure is yet to be completed in Bokor, it welcomes around 17,000 tourists every month," Beurich Gerd, general manager of the Thansur Bokor Highland Resort said.
Nguyen Dai Ho, director of the Kien Giang-based Phuong Nam Travel Company, said the trend of going to Cambodia after visiting the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has risen sharply.
The company is co-operating with Hon Gai Travel Company to exploit the new Ha Noi-HCM City-Tay Ninh-Ha Tien-Phu Quoc-Ha Noi tour.
Nguyen Duc Tho, a tour guide working for Le Phong Tourist Company in HCM City, said: "Forty per cent of tourists to the region are Japanese. A tour of Xa Xia Border Gate-Ha Tien-Cambodia is feasible. It will also enable Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta residents to travel to Cambodia."
Dien Quan Media Company based in HCM City recently got celebrity chef Martin Yan to go around the delta to shoot Kham pha Viet Nam cung Martin Yan (Discover Viet Nam with Martin Yan) for television to popularise the country's image globally.
The company has opened a representative office in Can Tho.
Le Van Hien, chairman of Cuu Long Tourism Company, said the delta has done well, especially in upgrading the quality of services.
Local tourism associations and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Tourism Association have also shook hands to train waiters and tour guides, revive traditional festivals of the local ethnic groups, market tourism, and open quality resorts and amusement spots.
"Tourism in the delta has improved much in recent times, but it needs much more to be done," said Hai Dang, director of Vietravel Tourism Company.
Pham Phuoc Nhu, chairman of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Tourism Association, the 4+ model linking Can Tho, An Giang, Kien Giang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu would be expanded to the whole region.
The co-operation is expected to create specific associations for beach and island tourism in Kien Giang, spiritual and cultural tourism in An Giang, forest and beach tourism in Ca Mau, and ethnic cultural tourism in Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.
The co-operation involving 13 provinces and Can Tho City is expected to help the region fully promote its tourism strengths, attracting 3 million international visitors and 4 million local tourists by 2020. — VNS