Hotels in Sa Pa resort town, Bac Ha district and Lao Cai city, the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai were fully booked during the first half of the year, according to local authorities.

Local food specialties were sold out due to a dramatic increase in the number of visitors after the Hanoi-Lao Cai Expressway was opened to traffic late last year, the local authority of Lao Cai province has reported.

Lu Van Khuyen, head of the Culture and Information Department of Sa Pa town, said the number of tourists arriving in the town in the first half of the year had increased by 30 percent against the same period last year.

As a result, the local tourism sector was running at full throttle, Khuyen said. Hotel rooms were fully booked, while local culinary specialties such as salmon and sturgeon had always been in great demand, he said.

Trinh Xuan Truong, Chairman of the Sa Pa district People's Committee, said the shortage of hotel rooms and local food specialties had occurred despite the local authority predicting that the number of tourists visiting Sa Pa and other well-known tourist destinations in the province would increase when the expressway was opened.

This was a good signal to boost food cultivation for the locals, he said.

In Bac Ha district, which is famous for its Sunday market, where thousands of members of ethnic minority groups gather, the number of tourist arrivals has increased by 20 to 30 percent, which has brought higher profits to the tourism sector and allied businesses.

To meet the tourists' demands, the local authority recently introduced a night bazaar that opens on weekends. The district has also launched tourism promotion campaigns and started trekking tours to ethnic minority villages high in the mountains.

To promote tourism and benefit from the Hanoi-Lao Cai Expressway, Lao Cai province needs to do much more, the local authority said.

Besides building and upgrading hotels and improving services, the province will draw up plans to expand orchards of select fruits and open more fodder farms to ensure a safe and abundant food supply.-VNA