The northern mountainous province of Lao Cai People’s Committee celebrated a grand ceremony to mark the 110th anniversary of Sa Pa tourism in Sa Pa town on November 2.

Sa Pa Street Festival 2013, which comprised many special activities depicting local culture and the history of the town, has an important meaning in raising public awareness and responsibility of preserving cultural identity and natural sites of Sa Pa, creating more tourism products and fueling the local socio-economic development.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai praised Sa Pa local authority and its people for well-done shifting its economic structure, nicely tapping great economic potentials in its agriculture, industry and tourism in particular.

Deputy PM Hai said despite the country’s difficult economic context, Sa Pa, with its success in exploiting the non-smoke industry, has helped Lao Cai fulfill its economic growth target.

Addressing the ceremony, Nguyen Van Vinh, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the Lao Cai People’s Committee said concerted efforts have been made by all ethnic groups and local authorities in Sa Pa to turn the town into a “tourism paradise” of the country.

With 162 hotels and hostels with total capacity of 2,500 rooms, the town has welcomed millions of domestic and foreign visitors every year and enjoyed an annual tourism earnings growth of 35-40 percent, he noted.

Located 38km from Lao Cai City , Sa Pa is 1,600m high above sea level, with the average temperature of 15-18°C. The whole town is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which is famous with the Indochina’s highest mountain of Fansipan at a height of 3,142 m above sea level.

Discovered in 1903, Sa Pa has many natural sites such as Ham Rong Mountain , Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge , Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave. It is home to six main ethnic minority groups, including Kinh, Hmong, Dao, Tay, Day and Xa Pho with various traditional festivals and unique cultural practices, especially the Bac Ha market and Sa Pa love market.

On the occasion, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism presented two certificates recognising Sa Pa ’s O Quy Ho mountain pass as the longest pass in Vietnam and a 121-step terraced field in Vu Lung Sung village, Trung Chai commune as the most steps.

O Quy Ho pass, located on National Highway 4D, cuts cross the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range and connects Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. It has a length of 50 km.

In the middle of 2012, the international tourism information website Globalgrasshopper chose the pass to be in the top ten of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the terraced field in Vu Lung Sung is considered one of the most beautiful and oldest terraced fields in Sa Pa (over 100 years old).

Besides, the 110 th Sa Pa anniversary also received its own “records” for the outstanding hospitability of service agencies, order and safety without disturbance from souvenir sellers, as well as the diversity in activities and profession in organisation.

Nguyen Thanh Ha, a Hanoi tourist expressed his pleasure to visit the fancy town. He said a part from better tourism facilities, he also saw better services in all tourism sites in Sa Pa.

Local authorities said from October 31 to November 2 alone, Sa Pa received about 40,000 visitors, helping Lao Cai province fulfill is set target of welcoming 1 million tourist for 2013 two months earlier than planned.

According to the Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the province has so far this year welcomed 960,000 visitors, a 13.9 percent rise over the same period last year, earning over 1.927 billion VND.

The Northwestern part of Vietnam is one of the most interesting and beautiful areas of Southeast Asia.-VNA