Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vietnam's marine tourism development not matching its potentials

VN’s marine tourism development not matching its potentials

Kiva.Dang

Vietnam’s marine tourism resources, including natural resources and human cultural resources, are very plentiful and diverse and have a high potential value for tourism. However, Vietnam’s marine tourism development does not match its potentials.

Vietnam is a coastal nation at the eastern edge of the Indochinese Peninsula, with over 1,000,000 square kilometers of forest and more than 3,000 big and small islands, mainly located off the northwestern shore of the Gulf of Tokin (Quang Ninh – Hai Phong) along with the two offshore archipelagoes of Truong Sa and Hoang Sa.

Vietnam’s coastal area overflows with sunlight and an abundance of white sand beaches together with beautiful vistas of forest, river deltas, seashores, the ocean and islands, as well as having unique sea socio-cultural factors. All of which are provide great marine tourism potential for Vietnam.

However, Dr. Le Trong Binh, Head of the Institute of Tourism Research and Development, says that marine tourism development has not been equal to both the resources that the nature offers and the cultural heritages created by the Vietnamese people in coastal areas, because there are too many inadequacies in infrastructure investment and the development of tourism areas, as well as tourism types and tourism products.

Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Sea and Islands General Department, states that marine resources are shared resources because they are usually open to all for exploitation. Profit contradictions between marine tourism development and the development of other sectors of the economy along beaches and on islands are increasing. This is due to a lack of co-operation between different sectors in using and managing the resources of coastal areas, the ocean and islands. Some areas have great marine tourism potential, but ports, docks or aquaculture zones, which cause negative impacts on tourism, have been built there.

Moreover, the participation of local communities in developing and managing marine tourism is still limited and passive. Law enforcement of land use laws along the ocean and off-shore is weak, and policies on ocean environmental management are not synchronized. Cultural standards of people living in coastal areas and on islands, as well as tourists’ awareness, are rather low, so marine tourism development in the direction of industrialization and integration still meets numerous difficulties.

Dr Le Trong Binh, Head of the Institute of Tourism Research and Development: Promote communication and broadcast on mass media. In the Plan on Vietnam tourism development until 2010 and vision to 2020, what field does the tourism sector give priority?

Dr Le Trong Binh: In the short term, priority is given to develop sea in Quang Ninh-Hai Phong, Central Northern, Thua Thien Hue-Da Nang-Quang Nam, Binh Dinh - Khanh Hoa - Binh Thuan, Ba Ria- Vung Tau, Kien Giang areas, which are given priority infrastructure structure to have enough capacity to welcome foreign tourists. Apart from that, it is notable to diversify and improve quality of tourism products, invest to develop new and unique tourism products of each area to meet demands of domestic and international markets.

Communication and broadcast on sea tourism have not long since paid due attention, how does it renew in the incoming time?

Dr. Le Trong Binh: The Vietnam National Tourism Administration (VNTA) will intensify communication and broadcast tourism on domestic and foreign mass media. VNTA has worked with CNN to promote Vietnam’s sea tourism, in which Ha Long Bay is focused. VNTA will also sign agreements on promoting Vietnam’s tourism with foreign mass media; making traditional products and organizing programs, events and fairs and conferences, exhibitions in Vietnam and foreign countries and boosting international cooperation in tourism promotion, advertisement, investment and development.

According to you, which measures to develop sea tourism stably?

Dr Le Trong Binh: Firstly, communicating to raise people’s awareness of important role of sea and island resources. Secondly, Inspecting and assessing the real situation of resources fund of sea and islands to classify value and capacity of each sea area to preserve and exploit in the most suitable way. Secondly, issuing a synchronic mechanism and institution to manage, invest and preserve, limiting overlap of related laws to ensure sustainable development.

Assc.Dr Nguyen Chu Hoi, deputy head of the Vietnam Sea and Islands General Department: Lack high-grade tourism products and services.

Due to not pay due attention to diversification of tourism types, Vietnam’s sea tourism so far still lack high-grade, unique, qualified and prestigious tourism products and services in domestic and foreign markets. Vietnam has not any international-standard general sea tourism area. Island is one factor to develop sea tourism, attracting tourists but it so far has not any model that is invested and exploited effectively and sustainably. Space on island completely differs from mainland but localities use socio-economic development and management model in mainland to apply on island. Moreover, traditional sea cultural values such as fishery festival, buffalo fight festival and famous historical-cultural relics in coastal areas such as temples, fishing village cultures, economic achievements over exhibition fairs in coastal cities are attractive for tourists but have not been exploited properly.

Mr Luu Nhan Vinh, director of Vietnam Tourism Company in Hanoi: participation of local people is very important.

Our sea tourism products are now not unique for localities or the country. In tourism sites, there are still vendors asking tourists with insistence to buy their goods or garbage leaves surrounding sites.

In order to develop tourism sustainably, participation of local people is very important, which will create specific, different and lively tourism products. To do that, it is necessary to cooperation between departments and sectors in promoting tourism, increasing meets and exchanges between travel companies with local people. Through that, local people understand their rights and responsibilities in tourism promotion.

From now to 2010, the tourism sector strives to increase 10-20 percent of number of international tourists year by year, and reach 5.5-6 million arrivals by 2010, of which sea tourism attracts around 80 percent of Vietnamese tourists and makes 70 percent of revenues. In 2010, revenue from tourism is expected to fetch 4-5 billion USD, two times higher than that of 2005.