The Dong Van Stone Plateau Global Geo-park in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang held a ceremony to welcome its first New Year visitors on January 1 with flowers and gifts.

The annual move is to launch a series of its tourism promotion activities this year, popularising Dong Van as a friendly, attractive and safe destination.

Director of the Dong Van Stone Plateau management board Nguyen Le Huy said he hopes the visitors will spread the words about Dong Van, its beautiful landscapes and hospitable locals to their friends in and outside the country.

Last year, the province welcomed some 440,000 tourists, up 5.3 percent from 2012, with 130,000 coming from abroad.

Tourism activity earned Ha Giang over 500 billion VND (23.8 billion USD) in total revenue, a year-on-year rise of nearly 15 percent.

Recognised as a member of the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN) in 2010, Dong Van is spread over the four districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac and Dong Van which have seen a surge in both home and foreign arrivals, making up 80 percent of all coming to Ha Giang.

As Vietnam’s first geological park and the second such park in Southeast Asia, after Langkawi Geological Park in Malaysia, the plateau is 80 percent limestone and contains the fossils of thousands of species of prehistoric creatures from 400-600 million years ago.

It is also home to several cultures that have sprung up over the centuries. The 574 square kilometre plateau is now home to 250,000 people from 17 different ethnic groups.-VNA