The opening ceremony of the 2008 National Tourism Year, themed “The Mekong Delta’s Waterways and Countryside,” was organized on the bank of the Hau River in Can Tho city on February 21.
More than 1,000 artists took part in a street parade featuring cars bedecked with flowers carrying symbols of Mekong Delta provinces and six countries bordering the river on Hoa Binh, Nguyen Trai and Tran Van Kheo boulevards.
The announcing show in which leaders from 13 Mekong Delta provinces and representatives from China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia took part featured performances by hundreds of artists from around the country.
Organizers reported that the opening event of National Tourism Year 2008 attracted over 20,000 visitors.
The opening week will see various exciting cultural activities like Carnival; tourism and commerce conferences and food fairs; the Miss Mekong Delta pageant; the Mekong Delta Tour Guide Contest; water sports contests, and so on.
The festival will last until the end of the year with over 50 various activities, offering the delta region a golden opportunity to showcase its tourism and economic potential, history, customs, and traditional festivals to local and foreign visitors.
An event featuring colored lanterns to celebrate the 30th anniversary of liberation, and the Mekong Expo International Fair will take place respectively at Ninh Kieu Quay on April 29 and Can Tho International Exhibition and Fair Center from April 29 to May 5.
The Delicious Southwestern Fruit Festival will be held from May 28 to June 8 at My Khanh Tourist Village. The Peoples’ Cultural Festival, Construction Exhibition Fair, seminars on waterway culture in tourism, a conference on the potential and opportunities for tourism development in the Mekong Delta, and a traditional boat race will be held in July and August.
In the last two months of the year there will be the fourth Southern Ethnic Cultural and Art Festival, the National Conference on Musicology, an international fair and exhibition on shipbuilding, a Mekong Delta Ngo boat race, and an international agricultural fair.
The year-long festival is also a good opportunity to highlight the unique characteristics of the delta’s ethnic minorities like the Hoa, Khmer, and Cham, said To Minh Gioi, deputy chairman of the Can Tho city people’s committee.
Authorities have spent tens of billions of dong (VND1 billion = US$62,500) to improve infrastructure and access to tourist facilities and train more than 300 volunteers for the event.
Can Tho expects to receive more than 2.5 million visitors and earn VND450 billion during the year.
The fifth anniversary of Can Tho’s recognition as a centrally-administered city, the closing ceremony of the national tourism year, and the 2009 New Year will all be celebrated on December 31.
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