Terraced rice fields (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Northwest provinces held a press conference in Hanoi on April 14 within the framework of the ongoing Vietnam International Tourism Mart in order to promote tourism in the region.

The event was part of preparations for National Tourism Year, the most prestigious tourism event in the country, to be held in the region in 2017.

Ha Van Thang, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Lao Cai province, said that as the host of National Tourism Year, Lao Cai has coordinated with other regional localities to prepare, with the focus on developing typical tourist products of the northwest region.

The region has also looked to develop the tourism sector by trying to attract more investors and building infrastructure, Thang stated.

According to Thang, there will be 23 main events during the National Tourism Year 2017. A cultural, sport and tourism festival of northwest ethnic groups to be held in October this year will be the event’s curtain raiser.

The region will focus on eight typical tourism products, including community-based tourism, terraced rice fields, flower seasons and mountain trekking, Thang said.

The northwest region is home to more than 30 ethnic groups, a slew of tangible and intangible cultural heritages and famous historical sites and imposing landscapes.

Yet tourism accounts for a small part of the region's economy due to poor infrastructure, a lack of sophisticated products or professional tourism operators.

In 2015, the region received 8.9 million tourists, including 1.6 million foreign nationals, while the country received 7.94 million international arrivals, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The region has 12 areas earmarked for development under the national strategy on tourism development in the period through 2020, including the Dong Van Karst Plateau, Ban Gioc Falls, Mau Son Mountain, Ba Be Lake, Tan Trao, Dien Bien and Hoa Binh Reservoir.

Four national tourist attractions that feature in the strategy are Lao Cai city (Lao Cai province), Pac Po historical site (Cao Bang province), Lang Son city (Lang Son province), and Mai Chau district (Hoa Binh province).

The northwest region comprises eight provinces, namely Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Son La and Phu Tho.-VNA