The trip, organised by the provincial Department of Tourism and the APEX Vietnam Travel Corporation, took them to the Complex of Hue Monuments, the Phan Boi Chau Memorial House, the Thanh Tien paper flower craft village, the Bao La bamboo weaving village, and Laguna Lang Co Resort. The Japanese tour operators also experienced Hue’s distinctive cuisine and enjoyed an “ao dai” (Vietnamese traditional gown) fashion show.
They had a working session with the provincial Department of Tourism to learn firsthand about investment in the province and how to connect and develop tourism products with local travel agencies in order to provide services to Japanese travellers as the city of Hue has seen an increase in the arrival of Japanese visitors in recent years.
Thua Thien-Hue has made multiple efforts to develop and improve tourism products and services to lure more visitors from key markets, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, and Canada. The province has ramped up the promotion of its popular destinations at travel fairs, particularly those overseas, to try and seek foreign partnerships.
It has partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to launch the exclusive website www.vietnamhuekanko.com, providing Japanese travellers with all they need to know about Hue, such as popular attractions, cuisine, culture, and lodging.
The province has also focused on developing transport infrastructure connecting tourist spots and building ports at lagoons to better serve holidaymakers while the main streets and attractions have been lit up at night during the weekends and holidays.
Japanese tourists now rank eighth amongst the top foreign visitors to Thua Thien-Hue.
Hue city was the imperial capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty for over a century from 1802 to 1945.
It is home to five UNESCO-recognised aspects of heritage, namely the Complex of Hue Monuments (World Heritage Site); “Nha nhac”, or Vietnamese court music (Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity); the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty (part of the Memory of the World Programme); the imperial archives of the Nguyen Dynasty (part of the Memory of the World Programme); and the Literature on Hue Royal Architecture (part of Documentary Heritage in the Memory of the World Programme).
It is also famous for its elegant royal cuisine, which was served to the kings of Nguyen Dynasty. Some Hue dishes have been listed as the country’s best foods by Vietnam’s Record Book such as bun bo (beef noodles), com hen (rice with mussels), banh beo (rice cake with grilled shrimp), banh bot loc (dumplings with shrimp), banh khoai (fried rice crepes), che hat sen (sweet lotus seed pudding), and tom chua (pickled shrimp)
In the first nine months of 2018, Thua Thien-Hue welcomed nearly 3.5 million visitors, including 1.42 million foreigners. It earned roughly VND3.38 trillion (US$144.8 million) in revenue from tourism, up 30.5% from the same period last year.
The province aims to lure between 4 and 4.2 million visitors this year, up 10 – 12% from 2017, with around 40 – 45% being foreigners.