Ho Chi Minh City authorities have signed a tourism co-operation agreement with 30 cities and provinces so that it can promote inter-regional tourism.

Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the municipal People's Committee, said that enterprises in the city had invested a total of 29 trillion VND (1.38 billion USD) in 1,000 tourism projects in other localities around the country.

The city and Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan provinces attracted the most domestic and foreign tourists, said La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

He said that about 90 percent of foreign tourists visiting Tien Giang province and half of the tourists visiting Binh Thuan province were customers of travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City .

The city has just begun operating four river routes from Ho Chi Minh City to provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces and Cambodia, he said.

Tourism co-operation has led to the diversification of tourism products, but it has failed to attract day-trippers or big-spenders, due to poor branding of what are on offer and overly simple tours.

The quality of products and services in localities was low, making it hard to attract high-end tourists.

Co-operation on a regional and national scale meant looking for policies and products as well as promotion, human resources and investment, said Ho Anh Tuan, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The number of foreign visitors to Ho Chi Minh City alone accounts for more than half of the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam.

He said Ho Chi Minh City had the potential to receive and also distribute tourists to other parts of the country.

Last year, the city received more than 4.1 million foreign tourists, earning nearly 82 trillion VND (3.9 billion USD).

The conference, which attracted leaders from the departments of culture, sports and tourism in 44 cities and provinces, is part of the 10th Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Festival that opened on March 26 in the city.

The four-day annual event features tourism products and services from localities with a series of tour promotions.-VNA