Lao Cai targets 8.5 million tourist arrivals in 2024(LEAD) Doctors vow massive rallies this week against med school quota hikes

Lao Cai: In the wake of an impressive recovery in 2023, the tourism sector in the northern border province of Lao Cai is on a transformative journey, unveiling novel experiences and products as it sets its sights on the ambitious goal of hosting 8.5 million visitors this year. The sector wasted no time in making its mark in 2024, with a remarkable surge in tourist arrivals during the three-day New Year holidays, registering an impressive increase of 27% year on year. Total tourism revenue soared to approximately 467 billion VND (19.4 million USD), reflecting 9% year-on-year growth. Notably, the hotel room occupancy rate across the province reached 75%, with Sa Pa National Tourist Area boasting an exceptional 90-95%. During the Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays from February 8-14, the province anticipates a significant influx of tourists drawn by a captivating array of cultural, art and sport activities. A promise of memorable and joyful experiences awaits visitors, setting an auspicious tone for the New Year. With the target of welcoming 8.5 million tourists and generating revenue surpassing 27 trillion VND this year, Director of the provincial Tourism Department Ha Van Thang outlined strategic plans for Sa Pa township. The focus is on developing outstanding tourism products, emphasising festivals for each season. This approach aims to effectively amplify the Sa Pa tourism brand and extend the duration of visitors' stays. Beyond Sa Pa, Lao Cai envisions the development of Bao Yen district into a spiritual tourism hub for the northwest region and the entire country. Boasting three national-level and seven provincial-level historical and cultural relics, along with Bao Ha temple complex, the district annually attracts over 1 million visitors for sightseeing and worship. Looking to the future, Lao Cai city is positioned to become an irresistible tourist destination, introducing high-end entertainment tourism products, including a casino, golf course, amusement park, and MICE facilities. The northern area intends to serve as a pivotal bridge for international tours connecting with Yunnan (China) and vice versa./. Source: Vietnam News Agency Doctors will hold massive rallies across the nation this week in protest of the government's planned hike in the enrollment quota for medical schools amid a looming strike feared to affect the health service, officials said Sunday. The Korean Medical Association (KMA), a major lobby group for doctors, said it will hold protests nationwide Thursday as a first collective action after the entity went into emergency mode in response to the government's decision to boost the number of medical students. Last week, the health ministry announced a plan to increase the enrollment quota for medical students by 2,000 next year to over 5,000 in an effort to address the chronic shortage of doctors in rural areas and essential healthcare fields. Doctors, in response, have threatened to stage a large-scale strike. Details about the rallies, including how many medical personnel will participate in the upcoming rallies, are yet to be known, the officials said, adding that the KMA is also reviewing holding a meeting invol ving delegates of doctors nationwide to discuss following moves. The government has vowed a stern response to deal with any collective action by doctors. On Sunday, doctors affiliated with the Korea Emergency Medical Association also announced a decision to form an emergency council and join collective action plans led by the KMA. "What we want is to make decent environments where doctors can save the lives of the people," the association said, calling on the government to come to the dialogue table and cooperate on the quota hike issue. "If the government does not show signs of improvement, we will all stop providing medical care services," it added. The medical community has claimed that the quota hike will compromise the quality of medical education and services and that the government should rather find ways to better allocate physicians and boost compensation to solve the chronic shortages of doctors in rural areas and in the "less popular" but essential categories, such as pediatrics and obstetrics . Source: Yonhap News Agency

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