Tourism in Ho Chi Minh City has been growing unprecedentedly over the past decades, contributing 11 percent of the economic hub’s GDP. The growth can be partly attributed to the city’s drive to promote tourism through the annual International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC).

First launched in 2005, the ITE HCMC began as an event for tourism promotion between three countries in the region under the theme “Three countries – One destination” but expanded to “Five countries – One destination” in 2013, boosting tourism links between Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

The exhibition provides a platform for local-level tourism promotion agencies, travel firms and other industry service providers to introduce their services, seek overseas partners and expand business.

The number of travel businesses joining the event has risen four-fold over a decade; from 80 in 2005 to 320 last year, making the fair a national and regional travel event.

La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the fair looks to help local travel operators, especially small- and medium-sized firms, gain access to promising markets between 2015 and 2020.

Additionally, the city aims to turn the event into a regional festival for travellers, promoting destinations, travel services and deals among the five nations of the Lower Mekong Sub-region.

This year, the ITE HCMC is scheduled from September 10-12 and will celebrate its 11th anniversary.

This year’s event expects to host about 100 travel agencies in the sub-region, 200-350 international businesses and some 25,000 visitors, Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Hong said, stressing that the tourism sector should work towards sustainable development.

HCM City plans to organise a series of cultural and sporting tourism events and call for more investment from the private sector to expand the industry.-VNA