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VIETNAM AS A TOURIST DESTINATION: ON-THE-SCENE TRAVEL WEEKLY REPORTER PROVIDES FIRST-HAND VIEW

 NEW YORK, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Are Americans ready for Vietnam as a tourist destination? According to Travel Weekly -- the travel industry's leading newspaper -- Vietnam may be emerging as a destination, but it has a long way to go before it catches up with other Asian countries.
 Michele McDonald, Travel Weekly's senior editor who just returned from a trip there, reports that Vietnam, once an exotic destination for Europeans before the hostilities began, has the potential to attract increasing numbers of Americans.
 According to McDonald, "The Vietnamese could not have been more friendly or more welcoming, and there was never a hint of any anti- American sentiment."
 But for now, tourist-oriented facilities are fairly limited. McDonald cautions anyone considering a trip to Vietnam "to have flexibility and be able to roll with the punches...it's not for the faint of heart or the fussy."
 With the Vietnamese government welcoming foreign investment, McDonald says that cities like Saigon are bursting at the seams. However, hotels that typical American travelers would find acceptable are few and guaranteed reservations are nonexistent.
 In addition, she notes that "despite the economic strides made since the 1986 introduction of a free market, and despite the awe-inspiring industry of the Vietnamese people, the poverty is overwhelming."
 McDonald feels that it's likely that another generation must pass before Vietnam can be just another tourist destination in the minds of Americans. "I was mindful that the U.S. dropped an incredible amount of firepower on Hanoi, so I watched for signs of hostility there...and found none."
 Here are some of Travel Weekly's tips for American travelers considering a trip to Vietnam:
 -- Allow at least one month to obtain visas.
 -- Be aware that due to the U.S. trade embargo, credit cards issued by U.S. banks are not accepted -- the same applies to telephone calling cards.
 -- The weather is hot and damp -- the better hotels are air- conditioned.
 -- Power outages occur frequently, so be prepared.
 -- For travel between Vietnamese cities, air is much preferable to taking a train or renting a car.
 -- The favored currency is U.S. dollars; however, you can pay with "dong" -- since there are 10,000 dong to the dollar, it's best not to change more than $20 at once.
 -0- 5/27/93
 /CONTACT: Alan Fredericks, editor of Travel Weekly, 201-902-1565/


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Date:May 27, 1993
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