Com­mem­o­ra­tion of King-Monk to be­gin

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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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