Tourists visit Hue citadel, which tops tourist destinations in Vietnam. (Source: VNA)

Thua Thien – Hue (VNA) – The ancient imperial citadel in Hue City, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, has been selected the top tourist destinations in Vietnam in 2016 by the National Administration of Tourism and the Vietnam Tourism Association.

Hue Imperial Citadel is part of the Complex of Hue Monuments, a political, cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen Dynasty lasting from 1802 to 1945 that was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1993.

Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre (HMCC) Dr. Phan Thanh Hai said that after the recognition, all 132 major works and items in the complex of Hue monuments have been restored.

This year, the centre plans to invest 129 billion VND in restoration works; last year, 163 billion VND was spent on the conservation.

Besides Vietnam’s own efforts, over 50 international organisations have responded to UNESCO’s call to sponsor the restoration of Hue citadel by offering financial support for the work.

Notably, Japan funded the restoration of Ngo Mon (the Noon Gate) with 100,000 USD, while the UNESCO international fund assisted a project to enhance capacity in managing Hue heritage in the 2014-2015 period. The US Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation sponsored two projects in 2013-2014.

Foreign experts, including those from Poland, Germany and Japan, have also joined in preserving the heritage.

Among the major items in the Hue complex, Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theatre, which used to serve the royal family and foreign diplomats, plays an important role in introducing “Nha Nhac Hue” to the public – the court music and dance under the Nguyen Dynasty which was recognised as part of the world intangible cultural heritage.

Built in 1826, the Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theatre is the country’s remaining oldest theatre. After its restoration, the theatre has been open to the public, offering performances of old court music and dances.

As part of efforts to promote Hue heritage, the HMCC recently launched a new tourism product which is a royal feast and music gala in the Hue Imperial Citadel. The event was only organized during the annual Hue Festivals before.

Since 1994, the Complex of Hue Monuments has hosted 33 million visitors, including 12 million foreigners.

In 2015, the complex welcomed over 2.3 million visitors.

So far this year, 1.36 million tourists have visited the site, including 750,000 foreign tourists.-VNA