A ceremony to launch the 2011 National Tourism Year was held on April 1 in Tuy Hoa city, the central coastal province of Phu Yen.

Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan stressed the importance of the sea and island economy and tourism sector, saying Vietnam has a coastline of more than 3,200 km long with thousands of islands and beaches.

The Party and State have issued resolutions and strategies for the development of the sea and island economy till 2020, he said, adding the National Tourism Year is held to promote advantages and potential of sea and island tourism, helping promote investment and tourism, contributing to socio-economic development in regional provinces.

Themed “sea and island tourism”, the art programme for the festival was also held to promote the history and development of Phu Yen province over the past 400 years.

The ceremony ended with a performance of fireworks.

As part of the 2011 National Tourism Year, an international conference took place in Phu Yen province on April 2 to discuss the preservation of cultural heritage in the southern central region for further development of tourism.

Participants at the conference focused their discussions on preserving cultural values and developing new tourism products. They emphasised the need to create a close link between Vietnam ’s southern central provinces and neighbouring localities in Laos and Cambodia .

They also highlighted the cultural identity of the southern central region which should be explored more effectively to boost tourism development.

The event, co-organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Phu Yen provincial People’s Committee, drew the participation of experts, scientists, researchers from France , Cambodia and Laos. /.