Owing to the concerted efforts of the townscape preservation project, the local residents, and the government of Vietnam, Hoi An was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. This has boosted the annual number of tourists to Hanoi to more than 1 million in 2007. When considering the fact that the town received only 2,500 tourists in 1992, the townscape preservation activities have indeed contributed to revitalizing the poor economy in central Vietnam. These efforts and achievements have received widespread recognition, and have earned the project the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation, the Japan Architectural Institute Award, and the Cultural Merit Award from the Vietnamese government, in 2000.
In August 2003, the Hoi An International Festival and Symposium were held as a commemorative event marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, at the call of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam. The successful event was made possible by the city of Hoi An and Quang Nam Province, with cooperation from the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, JICA, the Japan Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU), and Showa Women’s University. Participation by Mr. Gohei Kawabata, Mayor of Omi-Hachiman City and grand masters of the urasenke tea tradition also boosted the festival mood. The symposium welcomed the President of UNESCO ICOMOS as guest speaker, and adopted the Hoi An Declaration on preserving Asia’s wooden living heritage.
The festival has been held every year since, with the cooperation of JICA’s Junior Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). Its 6th festival in August 2008 marked the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, and the 7th festival, scheduled to be held from August 14 to 16, 2009, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hoi An’s inscription on the World Heritage List. The Embassy of Japan and other relevant parties are currently preparing for the 7th festival, which will also include an international symposium featuring experts in the field of cultural heritage preservation from around the world. The festival looks forward to receiving large crowds of people from throughout Vietnam and Japan.