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Dinh Vu


Last updated: Thursday, August 16, 2018


Handicraft Villages Help Spur Tourism Growth in Vietnam

Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cultural tourism is catching a greater extent of interest than ever thanks to the rapid development of modern technologies that enable people to access information more easily than ever. A unique culture hence becomes a source of tourism. Not being out of that trend, handicraft village discovery is becoming a very attractive tourism product in Vietnam and plays a considerable role in the country's tourism development.

Traditional handicraft villages - Great potential for tourism development
Traditional handicraft villages, featuring cottage industries, are considered “living museums” because they are formed and developed along with social development and community life. Handicraft villages are material and spiritual entities characterised by stable trades and geographical boundaries. Each village has its own characteristics to interest visitors.

Not only being a source of income for villagers, a traditional handicraft village is also a cultural environment that preserves and transmits artistic quintessence, folk techniques, production experiences, customs and beliefs of a community. For that reason, traditional handicraft village discovery will help visitors to explore the culture of Vietnam.

Pham Tien Dung, General Secretary of the Hanoi Unesco Travel Club and Director of Goldentour, said, “Discovering handicraft villages is currently a special interest of foreign tourists. When visiting handicraft villages, they not only see artisans making handicrafts but can also buy local products for relatives and friends. Thereby, villagers will have a better life when their products are sold better.”

Vietnam has about 2,000 recognised traditional handicraft villages, mainly engaged in 11 businesses like lacquerware, pottery, embroidery, weaving and rattan - bamboo item making, and located across the country. The largest number of handicraft villages lie in the northern Red River Delta region, which comprises Hanoi, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang and other localities. Well-known handicraft villages include Bat Trang pottery village, Dong Ho painting village, Yen Nhan soy sauce village, Van Phuc silk village, Dong Ky woodwork village. The central region has about 300 handicraft villages like Sinh painting village, Thanh Ha pottery village, My Xuyen wooden sculpture village and Phuc Kieu bronze casting village. The southern region has more than 100 trade villages, including Lai Thieu pottery village, Buu Long stone carving village and Tuong Binh Hiep lacquer village. With such a large number and diversity of handicraft villages and the stronger combination of handicraft villages with tourism in Vietnam than other countries in the region, this form of tourism has become a strength to compete with other rivals and promises to make a significant contribution to tourism development.

Seeing this trend, at a conference on plans of developing handicraft villages in Hanoi in 2017, Hanoi has urged relevant agencies to focus on developing traditional handicraft villages together with cultural and historical tourism.

Deeper impressions and larger scale
Vietnam has so many handicraft villages but they are mainly developed spontaneously and fragmented, resulting in shallow impressions on tourists. Handicrafts are monotonous and stereotyped according to traditional designs, rather than created to serve tourists’ needs and tastes and match modern trends.

Mr Nguyen Vi Khai, Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Vietnam Handicraft Village Association, said, “The most notable weakness is the absence of long-term development strategies. Professional tourism workers at handicraft villages are insufficient and weak. Although handicraft villages make a variety of products, they lack competitiveness and are not popular on the regional and international arenas.”

In addition, many localities still do not have appropriate mechanisms and policies to develop handicraft villages, support infrastructure and services for tourism such as roads, restaurants and guides. On the other hand, the environment in handicraft villages is often severely polluted by poor waste, dust and smoke treatment systems. Many even discharge garbage directly into streams and lakes, causing water and air to be seriously contaminated. Besides, soliciting tourists to buy souvenirs and sell them at exorbitant prices also worsens the image of Vietnam tourism in the eyes of international visitors.

Actually, handicraft village discovery tours are one of new promising ways to achieve new positive results. Nevertheless, there is a need for legal documents, support policies and detailed action plans to facilitate handicraft villages to develop in the global integration process.

In the near future, it is necessary to further supervise environmental protection in handicraft villages and upgrade infrastructure such as roads, bridges and sewers, and teach communication skills and tourism business to local people.

Especially, developing handicraft village-based tourism needs to ensure sustainability and efficiency in such aspects as economy, environment and ecosystem and strengthen protection, restoration and renovation of historical monuments and folk cultural activities to create their own identity to attract tourists.

Handicraft village-based tourism has huge potential, but it needs a well-prepared strategy and support of central and local authorities, travel companies and community.

Giang Tu

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