Tourism lessons from central Việt Nam

Đà Nẵng got a water-sprouting carp fish with a dragon head to complement the Dragon Bridge during this year’s Reunification Day celebrations, featuring the Đà Nẵng  International Fireworks Competition.

Yayyy!

I believe next year Đà Nẵng will also be the proud recipient of a five-story-high yellow floating rubber duck; however, this intrepid scribbler is unable to confirm this at this time.

It would be awesome, but…

A survey conducted by the EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Program last year found that

“…Tourists stay in Đà Nẵng  and Hội An on an average of almost 4.5 nights, while they only spend 1.5-2.5 nights in Huế, Sa Pa and Hạ Long.”

Why is central Việt Nam doing right but others are getting wrong?

Rather than complain about the obvious problems, let’s look at things a little bit differently.

Well, central Việt Nam has oodles of things you can do.

It’s not an accident – people are organizing and expanding tourism products.

I’m living in an area that’s unique for the ability to see, sample and explore Vietnamese life close-up and relax at the beach – all in one day.

Bà Nà Hills Park now has the soon-to-be famous French castle among other attractions – will we witness sword fights and the three musketeers?

On top of that, Vespa motorbike clubs from five countries held a roadshow from Đà Nẵng  to Hội An earlier this week with more than 500 members taking part.

Tourism_VietnamTourists wait to use the cable car service in Nha Trang City, located in central Việt Nam

Around the same time, Hội An was hosting the 4th Việt Nam International Choir Competition with events scheduled around the town and there was also the Hội An Lantern Festival with lanterns drifting away downstream on the Hoài River, a touching, heartwarming sight on a calm night.

Darn, I forgot the Vengaboys performed in Đà Nẵng last night.

Further north, Huế will hold its increasingly popular Huế festival featuring street performances and shows against the backdrop of the Huế citadel and other sites.

The new Bangkok-Thừa Thiên Huế direct flight is also expected to boost the old capital’s tourist influx.

Go Huế!

To the west, Tối (Dark) Cave in the Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng National Park, five kilometers long, has been fully opened for tours since April this year.

If you suffer from claustrophobia (a fear of being trapped in a closed space – you know… a cave…), like me, the park and surrounding country life will still be a great substitute adventure.

What’s it all about?

Our great central coast tourism is on the move – finding new ideas, renovating old ideas, freshening up its image and developing products.

Our beaches haven’t been trashed nor, for the most part, has the beachfront been ruined by over-zealous construction, with the possible exception of the Cửa Đại beach area east of Hội An.

So lesson #1 for Nha Trang and Mũi Né:

Back off from developing the beachfront to extinction before it’s too late for the coastline.

Yep, we have huge resorts too but the great majority of them have been built with enough thought not to destroy the beachfront or construct right up the waterline.

Huế and Đà Nẵng both have beach lines straight out of the tourist brochures thanks to some thought on the part of the city planners in keeping the seascape vista clear and unobstructed.

There’s plenty to see and do as I’ve just told you and that’s lesson #2:

Develop more fun activities for all ages and groups.

It’s not hard, it’s called research!

And diversification.

From Huế down to Hội An we have caves, pagodas, ancient ruins, fun parks, sparkling beaches, cool, scenic mountain passes, relaxing bars that you don’t have to fight your way to get to, lush timberlands, quiet lakes, pristine mangrove creeks, try-your-hand-at-farming stuff and… the best, most inventive burgers in Việt Nam!

Whew!

Our tour guides are a mix of locals from Quảng Nam, Đà Nẵng and the southern provinces.

A tourism management sore point still, it was noted early last year that Việt Nam is far short of enough proficient tour guides to meet demand.

The Vietnamese National Administration of Tourism stated in February 2014 that there were seven thousand tour guides certified for guiding foreign tourists.

Yet the problem of the country’s lack of qualified tour guides could be eased if tour guide courses from vocational schools, now at the minimum the four year degree requirement for foreign tour guides, are allowed certification also.

Đà Nẵng’s tourism department, reported in Đà Nẵng Today in January this year, has promoted many short-term training courses to develop their skills and currently has 1,612 tour guides, of which about 900 can speak a foreign language.

Lesson #3:

Develop your human resources.

I haven’t mentioned visas or inbound flight routes, just two issues of many that need to be discussed, however I’m running out of space!

But the above is worth considering.

The problems are not impossible to solve, nor are the solutions always expensive.

Just a little bit more thought and planning are required.

By STIVI COOKE

Source: Tuổi Trẻ News

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