Japanese and Vietnamese experts discussed measures to preserve the 540-year-old Phuoc Tich Village on the outskirts of Hue city, train local residents in serving tourists, and promote its traditional pottery craft.

At a three-day seminar that ended on Aug. 18, they tabled a report under the Promoting Self-Sustaining Community Development in Three Provinces of Vietnam through Heritage Tourism project launched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to develop tourism in traditional craft villages.

Prof Hiromichi Tomoda, one of the project's managers, said over the last two years 20 Japanese researchers did a study of the history, architecture, lifestyles, culinary arts, landscapes, and the possible course of the village's development.

"Local residents will recognise the uniqueness and attractiveness of Phuoc Tich's architecture if they compare it with villages in other countries," Tomoda told Vietnam News.

The village had 24 ancient houses, the oldest of which was built in the 1850s.

All the houses were situated 3.5 metres above sea level to minimise damage caused by annual flooding that plagued central Vietnam, and were surrounded by gardens and orchards.

The major objective of the project was to preserve Phuoc Tich and improve its people's living standards through heritage tourism.

A JICA report says: "To achieve livelihood improvement and appropriate environmental management, it is necessary for local residents to renew their understanding of the value of their culture, and revitalise the economy by reviewing the traditional industry and promoting tourism through utilisation of local resources."

The project hopes to turn Phuoc Tich into an attractive destination by the time visitors come to Hue for the Hue Festival 2012 next April.

Tomoda said a brochure to introduce Phuoc Tich and a map of the ancient village would be published in a few months while local women had been trained to provide a cooking course for tourists.

A group of Japanese experts had come to the village to train people in pottery-making techniques using Phuoc Tich's traditional materials and designs.

After the Hue Festival 2012, JICA will provide further support to enable Phuoc Tich to attract more visitors who may stay overnight.

"Phuoc Tich wants large groups of tourists. We need special guests who [would like to] experience cultural values. Their spending will help the sustainable growth of the village."

Officials from the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and professors from Showa Women's University in Tokyo attended the seminar.

The project also seeks to develop tourism in Duong Lam Village in Hanoi's Son Tay Town and Dong Hoa Hiep Village in the Mekong (Cuu Long) province of Tien Giang Province by 2014./.