The New Year is close, offering people a four-day holiday – the start of a busy tourism season.

Tourist sites, entertainment venues, trade centres, hotels and restaurants nationwide have been decorated, while many cultural exchange programmes have been organised to serve international and domestic visitors.

In Hanoi, hundreds of lights sparkle in the gardens of luxury hotels, including Deawoo, Melia, Hilton and Metropole.

A rotary market by ethnic minority groups has reappeared at Metropole Hanoi Hotel. Taking place from December 23, 2012, to January 2, 2013, six Red Dao ethnic minority women from Ta Phin and Lao Chai villages in the mountainous northern province of Lao Cai will be participating.

Other well-known destinations including Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Dalat, Ha Long Bay, Sapa and Phu Quoc Island will welcome the new year with many activities to impress tourists.

According to travel agents, unlike other years there are still hotel rooms available in “hot spots”. However, the number of visitors registering for tours will increase during the nine-day Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

Saigontourist Travel Service Company has said it has welcomed 15,000 tourists joining 50 inbound and outbound tours during the Christmas and New Year holiday.

The company will serve various groups of foreign tourists from France, Russia, China, Ukraine, Hong Kong and China on December 31, 2012 and January 1, 2013.

Saigontourist will greet 3,000 tourists and crew members aboard the cruise liner SuperStar Aquarius on January 3. They will visit Ha Long Bay as part of a cooperation programme between the company and Star Cruises.

Star Cruises is expected to bring 130,000 foreign visitors and sailors to Ha Long Bay, Da Nang, Nha Trang and HCM City between November 2012 and April 2013.

Saigontourist reportedly welcomed 450,000 tourists in 2012, achieving 2 trillion VND in revenue.-VNA