The tight agenda for a period of half a year includes 15 events in China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Malaysia, Russia, France and other countries, the national tourism authority said at a meeting with t1e tourism sector of southern provinces and cities at the Majestic Hotel.

The remaining seven events at home include the Gong festival, the Mekong-Japan festival as well as activities to prepare for the National Tourism Year of 2010.

Apart from these events, the Vietnam National Administration for Tourism (VNAT) will also run publicity programmes on BBC and in other international magazines, plus a repeated programme on the Cable News Network (CNN) in the near future.

VNAT said these busy programmes were meant to woo international visitors back to the country at a time the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the global economic downturn.

"We are kept very busy in the period with all promotion activities and efforts to improve tourism products. We are in a hurry to make better programmes to woo more guests;' Nguyen Van Tuan, head of VNAT, told the Daily on the sidelines of the meeting.

Tuan said that his agency would combine with travel firms to make survey trips before launching new products and new tours.

Such survey trips will cover coastline attractions from Quang Ngai Province southwards to Binh Thuan Province in September, attractions in the Central Highlands, and other trips to the Mekong Delta region. Such survey trips are aimed at doing away with overlapping tours and products being offered by different localities.

"National and provincial agencies and travel firms will join hands in making new products and limiting undercutting as currently many localities are offering similar products for tourists;' Tuan said.

Apart from above events, important conferences will also take place this year, including those on development of river tourism and border-gate tourism.

According to VNAT, Vietnam has welcomed nearly 2.2 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2009, down 18.7 percent.

The Saigon Times Daily - August 26, 2009