Tourists learn how to make ceramic jars at Bat Trang Village in Hanoii. The village was awarded the title of "Best Craft Village" at this year’s VITM (Photo: travel-hanoi.com)

Hanoi (VNA) – Traditional art performances by troupes from Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia opened the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) 2016 on April 14 in Hanoi.

The troupes performed on the outdoor stage, while visitors walked around the indoor exhibition area and enjoyed cultural specialities from various countries and territories, such as Thai massage and Taiwan’s pineapple cake. All goods and services were offered free of charge to the visitors.

This year, Vietnam impressed visitors with its Northwestern House, a 500sq.m. exhibition centre built in the shape of a traditional ethnic house to introduce destinations in the northwestern provinces. Apart from being used as an exhibition area for tourism and travel, it also features local specialities, traditional crafts and artworks.

During the travel mart, visitors to the area will have a chance to enjoy traditional dances and instrumental music and to watch handicrafts being made by people of various ethnicities.

Dancer Svetlana Subina from the Russian Cultural Centre in St Petersburg City said she came to Vietnam with three musicians and 11 other dancers.

“Vietnam and Russia have a long-standing friendship,” she said. “We love Vietnam; it is one of our favourite countries in Asia that we have always wanted to visit.”

Subina said the VITM impressed her with its numerous well-decorated booths that introduced various destinations and the tourism potential in Vietnam.

“By attending the fair, I now know much more about Vietnam. Before, I just knew about the beaches, such as Nha Trang and Da Nang, but now, I know that Vietnam has a spectacular mountainous landscape, mangrove forests and a rich culture.”

With the theme “Vietnam – The paradise of sea and island tourism”, the VITM focused on introducing the tourism potential of the coastal provinces and offered many sea and island tourism products.

Thousands of tourist packages, with discounts of up to 40 percent, will be offered at the event.

Some 15,000 tours with a 20-30 percent discount and 20,000 cheap airline tickets will be sold at the event, according to Vu The Binh, head of the organisation board.

“VITM hosts many press briefings, workshops and conferences to promote tourism and discuss problems and solutions. This is the biggest professional tourism event of the year.

“VITM can be compared with regional travel marts due to its capacity, scale and quality,” Binh said.

“Last year, VITM attracted 3,000 enterprises and 55,000 visitors. It worked really well, as many products were sold and many businesses have found opportunities to co-operate with each other.”

Vietrantour was the leader among the companies with the highest income from VITM 2014 and 2015. This year, it is offering discounts of up to 30 percent for 9,999 international and domestic tours at the fair, the company’s deputy director, Pham Bich Ngoc, said.

The first day of the travel mart was reserved for participating enterprises to exchange and sign co-operation contracts. It will open to the public today and run until Sunday at the Exhibition Fair Centre on 148 Giang Vo Street, Hanoi.

It was reported that 18.7 million Vietnamese travelled for leisure in the first quarter of this year, while the total number from last year was 30 million.-VNA