VNEconomyNews.com - Seven commercial and tourism projects worth VND3.7 trillion (nearly US$180 million) were granted licences during an investment promotion conference held in the northern province of Hoa Binh on Saturday.
The forum, intended to promote the province's potential for tourism development, attracted the participation of 250 domestic and foreign companies.
Provincial People's Committee vice chairman Tran Dang Ninh urged attendees to make further investment to help Hoa Binh become a more attractive destination for tourists.
Provincial tourism grew at a rate of 15 per cent during 2006-10, with 4.3 million of visitors – including 500,000 foreigners – visiting the province during the period, he said. But the growth was still below tha national average and well below Hoa Binh's enormous potential.
"Creating specfic tourism products to gradually build a brand name for the province's tourism is our top priority," Ninh said.
Hoa Binh had the potential to become a major tourism centre in the northern reigon, said Nguyen Quy Phuong, director of the travel department of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
The advantages include proximity to Ha Noi, the nation's leading cultural and tourism hub, a diversified culture with tangible and intangible heritage, and a series of recorgised historical sites, Phuong said.
However, in order to become an ideal destination for domestic and foreign tourists, he said the province needed to develop more attractive tourism packages with a focus on culture, eco-tourism and meetings-incentives-conferences-exhibitions (MICE) tourism.
Improving the quality of human resources in the sector and accelarating co-operation with other localities in promoting tourism were also important, Phuong said, adding that the province should also take the initiative to participate in more domestic and international touirsm expos to better promote its image and seek investors.
Hoa Binh Province was offering investors a number of incentives, including corporate income tax and land use fee reductions, as well as assistance in obtaining bank financing, said Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Tourism and Sport, Dao Van Hanh.
To date, the province has licensed 33 tourism projects, of which 17, worth a combined total of VND1.3 trillion ($62.2 million), were already operational, creating 550 local jobs.