The northern mountainous province of Lao Cai expects to see a sudden surge in the number of visitors with 400,000 in the second quarter of 2013 when it holds a range of cultural, sports and tourism activities.

The activities will include the 2013 Sa Pa in the Cloud Festival, the Bac Ha Traditional Horse Race 2013, the 8 th National Sports Festival for Ethnic Minorities in provinces from Thua Thien-Hue northwards, and a ceremony to announce Sa Pa town as a fourth-tier city.

To meet the increasing demand of tourists, the local tourism sector has focused on training tour guides, improving services, ensuring food hygiene and safety, and cleaning the environment at tourist sites, said Tran Huu Son, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

According to the department, Lao Cai received 318,000 tourists, including 152,500 foreigners, in the first quarter, a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent.

Sa Pa remained the most favourite destination with 166,000 visitors in the three-month period.

The province posted tourism revenues of over 646 billion VND (30.7 million USD) in Q1, up 15 percent against the same period last year.

The department attributed the surge in the number of tourists to the well-organised tourism promotion activities and the maintenance of traditional festivals across the province.-VNA