There is room for a lot more co-operation among tourist regions in Vietnam despite the efforts by local authorities in recent years.
Tourists visit an ethnic village in Gia Lai Province.
According to deputy head of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry's Travel Department Nguyen Anh Tuan, more tourism links would help lower tour prices and offer visitors better choices of places to go and services to use.
"Examples are the links between France and Switzerland or the border area between France and Germany," Tuan said.
Workshops have been held in many tourist localities across the country to attract more visitors to various places of interest in just one tour. Yet, little has been achieved.
The deputy director of the ministry's Institute for Tourism Development Research, Pham Trung Luong, said that 10 years ago, the cities of Hanoi and Hai Phong and Quang Ninh Province signed an agreement to boost tourism development.
However, ideas and projects that had been agreed on had not been put into practice, Luong said, adding that there was still inconsistency in services to tourists among cities and provinces.
And even recently, he said a tour named "Travelling to origins" among the northern provinces of Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho had attracted little attention from tourists. Although the tour was first launched in 2005, local authorities had been still trying to run it more effectively in each of the provinces, Luong said.
Cultural activities on the provincial tour sometimes were unconnected, leaving local tourism products untapped, he said.
Luong said a lack of a detailed programming on the routes were blamed for the unattractive destinations on the tour. For example, stops with restaurants and souvenir shops along the routes would encourage tourists to stay for a while.
Attempts have been made to offer linkage tours to regions such as the Central Highlands, south-central provinces, Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and northern provinces.
Last year, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City together organised events for the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi.
The director of central Khanh Hoa Province's Tourism Promotion Centre, Nguyen Van Thanh, said to lure tourism enterprises to join tourism development plans, it was imperative that authorised agencies actually made them.
Based on a plan, each locality has to select destinations. For example, central Khanh Hoa Province will list the most suitable destinations for seagoing vessels when they visit Nha Trang Bay.
Thanh said it was necessary to establish an agency that specialised in regulating all tourism activities.
He said the agency had to inform tourists they would be getting bargain prices if they bought a tour connecting the provinces.
Hoang Thuy Nga, a 24-year-old girl who likes to travel, said it would be more interesting if she could visit a range of destinations along the central region, such as Hue City, Da Nang City and Hoi An Old Quarter in central Quang Nam Province via a package tour. Nga said discounts from package tours would also attract her attention.
Jepson Stark, an Australian, said he preferred to travel through a package tour because he could save time and money.
Nguyen Son Ha, director of Thang Long Travel Agency, said in Thailand, tourists received a big discount when booking a package tour of garden venues.
Co-operation was vital to the tourism industry, Ha said. It would attract more tourists and reduce the service prices.
With little support from authorised agencies, domestic travel agencies still managed to find new destinations for tourists, he said.
"Tourism development co-operation is now only based on geographic factors, such as co-operation among provinces located along a national highway," said a representative from northern Lao Cai Province's Culture, Sports and Tourism Department.
He plans to develop a tour to terraced rice fields in Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho provinces to draw more visitors.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has approved several programmes to promote tourism this year.
One is to boost publicity for Vietnamese tourism at big events in foreign countries or advertising on global channels and the mass media.
Other moves include producing more tourism publications, organising events for National Tourism Year in central Phu Yen Province.
Most importantly, the main move is to train tourism staff better and to diversify tourism services.