ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 opens in Ha Long hinh anh 1At the opening ceremony (Photo: VNA)
Quang Ninh (VNA) – The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2019 opened in Ha Long city, the northern province of Quang Ninh on the night of January 16.

With the theme “ASEAN-The Power of One”, the forum looks to realize an ASEAN of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.

It brought together around 2,000 delegates from national tourism agencies of the ASEAN countries, the UNWTO, and local and international travel companies and tourism media outlets.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said through 38 years, the ATF has proved its increasingly important impact on tourism in ASEAN in particular and on socio-economic, political, cultural, and tourism cooperation in general.

For Vietnam, it will help the country to make policies to develop its tourism sector in a fast and sustainable manner and underline the efforts of the country and other ASEAN members in building a wealthy ASEAN Community and a reliable partner, he said.

The forum lays a foundation for ASEAN to become a quality destination providing visitors with experiences in a diverse and unique ASEAN, he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said tourism proved its role as a leading economic sector of Vietnam’s economy. In 2018, the sector catered for 15.6 million international visitors and 80 million domestic tourists, contributing 8 percent of the national GDP.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 is an opportunity for Vietnam to assert its position in regional tourism cooperation and introduce its huge potential, he said.
Established in 1981, the ASEAN Tourism Forum is a regional effort to promote ASEAN as one tourist destination. The annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member states.

This year, the event also includes India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Russia and China.

Quang Ninh is endowed with natural advantages for sea and island tourism. It has a coastline of more than 250 kilometres and more than 2,000 islands and islets which account for two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam.

It is home to popular destinations such as Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long, Ha Long Bay National Park and some islands.

In particular, Ha Long Bay literally “descending dragon bay”, was twice recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000.

The bay spans 1,553 square kilometres and includes 1,969 islands of various sizes. It features thousands of limestone karsts and islets in various shapes and sizes. The limestone in the bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. 

The geo-diversity of the environment has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea biosystem. 

In 2018, Ha Long Bay made it into the top 15 Instagrammed global cruise destinations based on a survey of 1.8 million posts tagged on various ships and ports by travel cruise site SeaHub.

Located 80 km from the mainland, Co To island is another attraction in Quang Ninh. The island district comprises Co To Lon (large Co To island), Co To Be (small Co To island) and 15 smaller islands. 

Besides enchanting beaches, the island has natural forests, lighthouses, parks, wharves, fishing villages, bays and a rock garden.

Located in Bai Tu Long Bay, Quan Lan Island in Van Don district has become an ideal destination in summer holidays thanks to its pristine beauty, clear blue seawater and fine white sand bank stretching along the green rows of casuarinas.

Last year, Quang Ninh hosted the National Tourism Year 2018 under the theme “Ha Long-Heritage, Wonder, Friendly Destination”. The province welcomed 12.3 million visitors, including 5.2 million foreigners, and earned 24 trillion VND (1.03 billion USD) in tourism revenue.-VNA