Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vietnam's ancient city Hue attracts swarms of Thai tourists



More than 15,000 Thai visitors visited the historic city of Hue this week, setting a record for tours, the Thua Thien-Hue tourism authority has announced.

On October 23, Hue welcomed nearly 6,000 Thai visitors, most of whom arrived by land caravan tours on the Trans-Asia Highway through the Lao Bao Border Gate in Quang Tri province.

This was the largest number of Thai tourist arrivals to Hue in one single day, said Vo Phi Hung, director of Thua Thien-Hue Tourism Department.

Hung said Thai tourists were expected to continue to visit the city next week as it is now a long holiday in the northeastern region of Thailand.

One of the major reasons behind the harp increase in Thai tourism tourists was the Trans-Asia Highway (linking central Viet Nam with Laos and the northeastern provinces of Thailand), also called the East-West, Economic Corridor, as well as the opening of the second Friendship Bridge (between Savanakhet of Laos and Mukdahan of Thailand) last year.

However, the hotel network in the city, with nearly 6,000 rooms, cannot accommodate such a big group of guests at one time.

Hung said after a one-day tour of Hue, many Thai visitors to Hue on October 23 had to stay overnight in neighbouring localities such as Da Nang and Quang Tri.

The director of Hue-based Huong Giang Travel Co. Ltd, Nguyen Hang Quy, said Thai tourists were interested in World Heritage sites in the central region, including the Phong Nha Cave in Quang Binh province, Hue, the historic town of Hoi An and the My Son Cham Complex in Quang Nam province.

Quy said Thai visitors would like to spend more money on souvenirs and traditional Vietnamese food rather than pay for luxury hotels and resorts.

He added his company had organized tours of central Viet Nam for groups of Thai tourists thai include up to 600 guests.

According to figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Viet Nam has become the second most popular destinations in the Greater Mekong Sub-region for Thai visitors, just behind Laos . TAT’s figures show that Thai tourist arrivals to Viet Nam in the first nine months of 2007 amounted to nearly 121,000, a year-on-year increase of 137 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of Vietnamese traveled to Thailand dropped by 60 percent in the first seven months of the year, due to unrest in the country.