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 May 14, 2003
Vietnam's "World Heritage Road" Celebrates First Anniversary

 The World Heritage Road (WHR), a new tourism initiative officially launched in Central Vietnam in the spring of last year, is now celebrating its first anniversary. The WHR is a 1500km long theme route by road and rail, stretching along the coast of Central Vietnam and linking 14 provinces of Central Vietnam. It encompasses three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Hue, Hoi An and My Son. Other sites along the WHR have also been recommended to become World Heritage designated.

The WHR was established with the objective of developing and promoting quality tourism in Central Vietnam and it has since received the full endorsement of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) as part of its long-term strategy to promote tourism in the country's central region.

The WHR was officially introduced to the international travel industry at the annual International Travel Bourse (ITB) in Berlin in March of this year. Vietnam also launched its national tourism campaign "Vietnam - A Destination for the New Millennium" at ITB two year's ago, and this has seen strong growth in tourist arrivals, making it one of Asia's most important new travel destinations.

Last year, Vietnam welcomed 2.63 million tourists, up 15% year-on-year. Domestic tourists registered 13 million for the same period, up 7%, according to VNAT figures.

Commenting on the development of the WHR in its first year, Paul Stoll, WHR General Secretary and General Manager of the Furama Resort Danang, said: "I believe The World Heritage Road is contributing significantly to a cooperative effort by the travel and tourism industry, to improve our tourism product and promote Central Vietnam to both domestic and overseas markets".

The WHR currently has over 60 members from all sectors of the travel industry including hotels, travel agencies, transport companies and retailers. It also works closely with such high profile partners as The Best Hotels Alliance, Vietnam Airlines, Foster's Beer, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola and Visa, which have pledged their support for the initiative.

This year, the WHR will also launch a Quality Tourism Programme (QTP) which is aimed at establishing international standards of service and facilities among its existing and new members. The WHR is also working with tourism schools and colleges, to develop a curriculum and certification programme, based on its QTP, to educate owners, management and employees in the tourism industry.

The WHR is also working with international financiers to identify sources of investment capital for development projects throughout the 14 provinces in areas such as hotels, transport, theme parks, tourism centers, retail and recreation facilities. The WHR recently supported and participated in "Invest Danang 2003" -- a significant and highly successful international conference aimed at attracting foreign investment to Central Vietnam.

The tourism authorities of Vietnam intend to promote the destination of Central Vietnam in 2004, making use of the World Heritage Road as a promotional theme. Besides an attractive cultural programme, the first "'World Congress of Theme Roads" is planned to be held in Danang, Vietnam in September this year. Over 300 theme roads from across the world are expected to send representatives.

The historical highway in Japan - Rekishi Kaido (, a partner theme road recently promoted the WHR during a successful tourism exhibition in Tokyo and Osaka. Similar activities we are also underway with the Romantic Road in Germany ( ).

The World Heritage Road launched its website in June 2002. This is continuously updated and upgraded as membership grows. Later in 2003, the website will be available in three languages: Vietnamese, Japanese and English.