The resort city of Hoi An, located in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam, treated its very first international visitors in 2019 to a special welcome ceremony featuring multiple activities including a performance of bai choi, a world intangible cultural heritage, on Tuesday.
A group of 12 multinational tourists, who arrived on a tour organized by local travel company Hoi An Express, became the first international visitors to set foot on the UNESCO-recognized Hoi An Ancient Town at 10:40 am.
Local officials and residents had waited in the rain for the special visitors at the ancient town’s Cam Pho communal house, with flowers in their hands, ready to bring them a surprise.
The tourists were garlanded with flowers and received New Year greetings from their hosts during the ceremony.
|The visitors enjoy a tea ceremony at the Cam Pho communal house. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Following a tea ceremony at the Cam Pho communal house, the visitors moved to the Cau Pagoda, located in the heart of the town, to watch a performance of bai choi, a folk game and form of art typical of central Vietnam that was last year recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
One of the 12 tourists told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he was overwhelmed by the august and warm reception from Hoi An people.
|The city leaders garland the visitors with flowers. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The 12 special guests were also given souvenirs as thank-you gifts from the city for choosing Hoi An to visit on New Year’s Day.
In 2018, the total number of visitors to Hoi An reached nearly five million, jumping 50.84 percent from the year before, according to the municipal administration.
Among them, international visitors accounted for 3.7 million, up 90.94 percent year on year, while the total number of staying guests topped 1.78 million.
|The visitors, in ao dai costumes, tour the UNESCO-recognized Hoi An Ancient Town on January 1, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Revenues from ticket sales of the ancient town tour were worth VND266 billion (US$11.44 million), exceeding the city’s target by 17 percent.
One of the decisive factors for the impressive growth is the improvements in both numbers and types of tourist accommodations in the city, according to industry insiders.
|The first 12 international visitors in 2019 set the first steps into the Cam Pho communal house in Hoi An City, central Vietnam, on January 1, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre|