For me, this was one of my luckiest days, simply because I was in Hồ Chí Minh City, meeting the kind Vietnamese people and enjoying life with them.
For a few years, Việt Nam was on my agenda to visit as I heard a lot about its wonders and beauties.
I have seen many films and promotions but being here with the Vietnamese people is something really wonderfully different.
I arrived on September 10 to attend the ITE Hồ Chí Minh City 2013, now in its ninth year.
My flight was with Emirates on a Boing 777-200 from Dubai, and the flight was only around six hours.
I was granted a visa on arrival, and I checked in to the Renaissance Riverside Hotel – a very nice luxury hotel.
I went walking around and had a light dinner of shrimp soup, which was very tasty, and if you can imagine, was less than US$5.
I also bought a Marlboro cigarette for US$1 (by the way, US$1 is around the equivalent of 25,000 Vietnamese đồng).
I started one morning at the Rex Hotel where we attended the first ACMECS Ministerial Conference.
The ACMECS is a joint effort between five countries – Việt Nam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
The idea is to join efforts to promote their countries as one destination, and to cooperate and work together to present their countries to the world as culture, heritage, MICE, and leisure destinations.
The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Hoàng Tuấn Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam.
During the press conference, H.E. Mr. Hoàng confirmed that more than 37 million international visitors visited the five countries, including about 6 million intra-regional visitors.
H.E. added that the five countries are looking to promote the images of “Five Countries – One Destination.”
This is I believe true, as I have visited four of the countries – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and now Việt Nam – and I really felt that I was in different amazing cities.
What most impressed me during the visits was the kindness of the people of these countries.
They are just wonderful people who look to make you enjoy your visit.
The culture, heritage, and people, are just wonderful, and this all makes visitors really happy.
The five countries are working together also to have a one-entry visa.
Thailand and Cambodia have started with this service, and in terms of transport, more airlines are flying between the ACMECS countries.
In addition, facilities in land transportation have improved.
Human resources development as well as safety and security are major fields of cooperation between the five countries, with trade and investment cooperation between the countries also moving forward.
Following the press conference, a Q&A session took place, and I asked their Excellencies about the cooperation between the ACMECS countries and the Middle East.
I also asked them to promote the ACMECS countries in the Middle East.
H.E. Mr. Hoàng answered that the ACMECS countries love the Middle Eastern people, and they are welcomed to their countries as guests.
He said, “Here I would like to say that whether you are in Việt Nam, or in any ACMECS country, you will be most welcome.”
Following, we moved to an exciting event – the 2nd Lower Mekong Tourism Cities.
The idea behind this event was to hear about the cooperation between the five capitals in the ACMECS countries, and to support and cooperate together to offer their best services and facilities for tourists.
The night ended with a wonderful and amazing Opening Ceremony which was attended by ministers, exhibitors, and hosted buyers.
The food was so delicious, with many dishes from the region on offer, accompanied by traditional dances on stage – all in all a very good night.
Finally, I would again would like to say what a lucky person I am to find myself here in Hồ Chí Minh City with these wonderful people.
I have visited 70 countries so far in my travels, and Việt Nam remains one of the best destinations.
I will continue to explore and experience its wonders to report back about in future articles.
By MOTAZ OTHMAN