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 July 26, 2002
Vietnam's "World Heritage Road" Goes Online

 World Heritage Road, a brand new tourism initiative uniting Central Vietnam provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Danang City and Quang Nam is now up and running and has launched its official website

The World Heritage Road has been conceived as an initiative to close the gap in development between North and South Vietnam and will stretch from Vinh to Hue to Danang to Hoi An/ My Son to Nha Trang to Dalat, around 1,500km of Highway Number One along the coast of Central Vietnam. It is so-called because the route encompasses no less than three UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites; the sixteenth century silk route trading port of Hoi An; My Son Valley, the sacred remains of the ancient Cham civilization, and the ancient imperial city of Hue.

The route will add to the diversity and quality of Vietnam's tourism product and is expected to contribute greatly to the rapid development of a local consumer market of around 20 million people living in Central Vietnam, as well as attracting 2 million domestic and 1 million international travellers a year to the area. Currently the number of international visitors to Danang is increasing by 20% a year and the number of domestic visitors by 15%.

The Word Heritage Road will become an extension of the East-West Corridor which connects Vietnam to Indo-China and so will further the development of tourism between Vietnam and its neighbouring countries. "The area is rich in natural history and culture with an inviting environment, and as such has tremendous long-term potential for the development of road tourism throughout the Indo-China region," explained Mr Stoll, general manager of the Furama Resort Danang and secretary general of the World Heritage Road. .

The World Heritage Road is already attracting a considerable number of members who include travel agents, hotels, restaurants, shops and transport companies, all of whom will benefit from the joint marketing and promotional activities of the World Heritage Road. The World Heritage Road is also attracting a number of partners who are committed to its ideals of promoting sustainable tourism as a spearhead industry for Central Vietnam. So far these include Vietnam Airlines, The Saigon Times, ACB, Visa, Fosters and Pepsi Co.

Obviously the development of the World Heritage Road will provide confidence in the destination and potentially encourage investment. It will also provide business opportunities and work for people. The World Heritage Road is also promoting quality tourism which will benefit Vietnam's society, culture, history and environment.

The World Heritage Road will be officially launched to the international travel industry at ITB Berlin next March, but is already acting as a co-operative platform for the travel industry of Vietnam and networking with the international travel industry to promote Central Vietnam.

The initiative, which has the full backing and participation of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has been well received and supported by the travel industry in Vietnam. A programme of activities has been announced to launch the initiative to potential new members and supporters in Central Vietnam, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City this summer. An international media familiarisation tour to the area is also planned for late July.

Highlights of The World Heritage Road

Hue - The ancient imperial city of Hue is one of the most important historical cultural cities of Vietnam. As the geographical and spiritual center of the Nguyen dynasty, Hue and the surrounding area is the site of numerous pagodas and seven imperial tombs, along with the tombs of numerous emperors and royals. In 1993, UNESCO declared Hue as a World Heritage Site.

Bach Ma National Park - Bach Ma, a French-era hill station known for its cool weather is 1200 meters above sea level. The French started building villas here in 1930. When the Vietnam war ended, Bach Ma was soon forgotten and the villas abandoned. In 1991, Bach Ma became a national park and there are plans to develop it for eco-tourism.

Lang Co - This palm shaded peninsula rates as one of the most scenic spots in the country. To one side lies a stunningly clear lagoon and on the other miles of unspoiled beach. The town depends on fishing for its livelihood.

Hai Van Pass - The Hai Van Pass is the highest and longest pass in Vietnam with the north-south national highway zigzagging over it for almost 20km. The literal meaning of Hai Van is Sea and Cloud. Reaching to a height of 496m above sea level, the pass seems to be lost in the clouds almost all of the time.

Ba Na - A former French hill station which enjoyed a brief heyday in the 1930's before gradually being abandoned thereafter. The scene of fierce fighting between American and Vietnamese patriotic soldiers in the 1960's, the resort's eighty or so villas and other buildings were later left abandoned. The completion of a new road up to the site in 1998 and cable cars operating since 2000 has once again opened Ba Na up to visitors.

Danang City - Danang is the main gateway city of Central Vietnam and has an international airport.. In 1888, Danang became "a concession" of France and was called Tourance. The French considered Tourance one of Indochina's five major cities. In December 1996, Danang was separated from Quang Nam to become Danang province. The government of Danang city was inaugurated officially on 1st January, 1997.

Quang Nam - This area was the centre of the Cham civilization for many centuries. Ancient cities like Singhapura - the administrative capital of the Champa civilization, the Buddhist inspired Indrapura, My Son valley - the spiritual center of the Champa civilization, and Hoi An - the ancient trading port are located in this region.

Marble Mountains - also known as the mountains of the five elements, these were once a group of five offshore islets, but because of silting over the years, they became part of the mainland. Mysterious caves within the mountains shelter altars dedicated to Buddha. At the foot of Marble Mountains is the stone-carving village of talented craftsmen producing fine works of art since centuries. From the Monkey Mountains peninsula to the Marble Mountains there is the world renowned Danang Beach, known around the world as China Beach. This beach provides white powdery sand, recreation facilities and first class diving.

The Peninsula of Son Tra - 12km northeast of the city centre of Danang is the Son Tra Peninsula. It looks like a mushroom with its peak 693m above sea-level. The cap of the mushroom is Son Tra mountain and its stalk is the white sandy beach which affords an ideal area for bathing, playing sports, fishing and swimming.

My Son Valley - Southwest of Danang, was chosen as a religious sanctuary by King Bhadravarnan, and from the 4th century on, many temples and towers were built. My Son was almost destroyed during the Vietnam war and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.