Commemoration of King-Monk to begin
QUAÛNG NINH — Several cultural and religious activities will be held starting today at the Yeân Töû historical site in the northern province of Quaûng Ninh to celebrate the 710th anniversary of the attainment of Nirvana by King-Monk Traàn Nhaân Toâng, founder of Vieät Nam’s Zen Buddhism.
The celebration will kick off with a commemoration in the morning in the yard in front of the 12.6-metre bronze statue of the King-Monk, which is located on the holy Yeân Töû Mountain at a height of 1,000 metres above sea level.
In the afternoon, a grand requiem ceremony will be held at Ngoïa Vaân Pagoda in the province’s Bình Kheâ Commune, Ñoâng Trieàu Town, where the King entered Nirvana.
Also today, an international seminar entitled “Traàn Nhaân Toâng and Zen Buddhism – Unique Cultural Thinking” will be held by the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha Central Committee (VBS), the Haø Noäi National University and the People’s Committee of Quaûng Ninh Province at the Truùc Laâm Zen Commons. More than 400 researchers will attend the event and present 130 studies, 34 of which are by foreigners.
According to organisers, the seminar will highlight the significant role of Traàn Nhaân Toâng’s cultural legacy and Zen Buddhism as well as its influence on Vieät Nam’s history and culture from the past to the present.
The event will discuss Buddhism in its modern context and the differences in Buddhist practice in different countries.
In the evening, staff of Truùc Laâm Zen Commons will turn into performers, staging a performance featuring traditional music and art forms. A fashion show featuring pilgrim outfits by the An Laïc Taâm brand will also be held.
On Friday, a grand ritual will be held to celebrate the 710th anniversary of the attainment of Nirvana by the King-Monk. Taking place from 8:30am to 11am, the ceremony is expected to have thousands of attendees including monks, Buddhist followers and tourists. Also in the morning, an inauguration of phase one of the Truùc Laâm Palace in the Truùc Laâm Zen Commons will be held.
During the celebration on Friday, all visitors to the Yeân Töû site will enjoy a 50 per cent discount on the return cable car fee, making it just VNÑ150,000.
Traàn Nhaân Toâng (1258-1308) was the third king of the Traàn Dynasty. As a young prince, he showed outstanding intelligence and had a thorough knowledge of Buddhism.
In 1274, when he was 16, he was given the title of crown prince by his father, King Traàn Thaùnh Toâng. Five years later, he took the throne. During his 15-year reign from 1279 to 1294, he defeated Yuan-Mongol invaders twice. Despite the demands of ruling, the king still had time for Buddhism.
After his abdication in 1299 at the age of 35, the former king left his palace to become a monk, spending the rest of his life on Yeân Töû Mountain practising and teaching Buddhism. He founded the Truùc Laâm School of Zen and worked to unify different Buddhist sects into Vietnamese Zen Buddhism.
The VBS has long observed the day King Traàn Nhaân Toâng attained Nirvana (the first day of the 11th lunar month) as a national anniversary for Vietnamese Buddhism. — VNS HAØ NOÄI — Various problems in Vieät Nam’s tourism sector were discussed by experts at the two-day Travel & Tourism Summit that began in Haø Noäi yesterday.
The event gathers some 1,500 participants including CEOs from leading groups in the world, domestic and foreign tourism experts and nearly 1,000 enterprises.
Participants will hear reports and analyses by leaders in domestic and foreign tourism.
At the first session yesterday afternoon, deputy culture minister Leâ Quang Tuøng admitted Vieät Nam needs to re-structure the sector.
“In 1990, the country received 250,000 foreign tourists while in 2017, it welcomed more than 13 million foreign visitors and 73 million domestic tourists,” he said. “So from 1990 to 2017, the number of foreign tourists increased 52 times while domestic tourists increased 72 times.”
However, Vieät Nam just ranked 67th of 136 economies, fifth in Southeast Asia, according to the Global Competitiveness Report in competitiveness capacity.
Tuøng said Vietnamese tourism’s obstacles included poor infrastructure, weak human resources, low capacity of managing destinations and developing tourism along with environmental protection.
“Thus re-structuring tourism is a must,” he said.
Tuøng also revealed that yesterday, Prime Minister Nguyeãn Xuaân Phuùc approved a project to restructure the tourism sector, which focuses on potential markets and developing human resources.
The project aims to increase tourism sector revenue to US$45 billion, more almost double the amount from last year, contributing 10 per cent to the GDP and creating 6 million jobs by 2025.
Tuøng hoped experts, enterprises and investors would propose solutions to develop Vieät Nam’s tourism at the event.
Kenneth Atkinson, executive chairman of Grant Thornton Vietnam Ltd, a business advisor firm, said Vieät Nam has great potential to develop tourism, with many luxury hotels in big cities.
He noted Nha Trang is a special market with the most beautiful beach resorts in Vieät Nam.
In 2017, Khaùnh Hoøa Province received 3.4 million domestic tourists and 2 million international tourists, a 20 per cent increase against 2016, most of tourists are Russian and Chinese, he added.
Thailand needed 20 years to reach the 30 million visitors it receives annually today. Atkinson noted the number of tourists to Vieät Nam in 2017 (12.6 million) increased to 16 million in 2017, which was a positive signal.
“If the tourism infrastructure is invested properly, the country has more chances to increase the tourist numbers,” he said. “Maybe just seven years to reach Thailand’s present number of tourists.”
He also noted some environmental problems in Haï Long Bay and Sa Pa.
He suggested Vieät Nam should diversify sources of tourists, focus on quality rather than quantity, protect the environment and avoid harming the scenery.
Olivier Muehlstein - CEO of BCG Singapore said Vieät Nam should determine its target markets and build a trademark for tourism to attract group tours and entice tourists to return to Vieät Nam.
He also suggested loosening visa policies to attract visitors.
Tomorrow, the summit will receive Deputy Prime Minister Vuõ Ñöùc Ñam and hear speeches by experts including John Lindquist, a high ranking consultant at BCG, Chang Chee Pey, deputy director of Singapore Tourism Boarch and Craig Douglas, vice chairman of Lodgis Hospitality Group.
The session will focus on developing tourism in terms of quality and sustainabilty.
The summit is hosted by the Private Economy Development Research Board, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, National Tourism Advisory Board and VNExpress online newspaper. The event is in the framework of the Vietnam Economic Forum, which consists of various events held from May 2018 to March 2019. — VNS
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