Last updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Cultural Heritages Promoting Tourism Development

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2018

Tourism is a vital element of economic development, and cultural heritage is an effective drawcard to attract tourists. Thus, cultural heritage also plays a significant role in promoting tourism development.

Creating attraction for tourism development
Vietnam has a long history of thousands of years with 54 ethnic groups, which live harmoniously on the beautiful S-shaped land. Each ethnic group has its own unique culture. This historical culture has made Vietnam an attractive cultural heritage system, which substantially attracts tourists to visit.

So far, Vietnam has 24 tangible, intangible cultural heritages and natural heritages which are recognised as UNESCO World Heritages. Of these, 8 natural heritages and tangible cultural heritages include Ha Long Bay, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Trang An Landscape Complex, Citadel of Ho Dynasty, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, The Complex of Hue Monuments, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary. The 12 intangible cultural heritages include Hue royal court music, the cultural space of the gongs in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Quan Ho folk songs, Giong festival, Ca Tru singing, Xoan singing, Worship of Hung Kings, the practices in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms, Vi and Giam folk songs of Nghe Tinh, Tugging rituals and games, the art of “Don ca tai tu” music and song in southern Vietnam, the art of Bai Choi in central Vietnam. The four World Documentary Heritages by UNESCO include the stone stele records of the imperial examinations in Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam, the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty, the royal documents of Nguyen Dynasty, the woodblocks of Truc Lam Buddhist Sudra in Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Bac Giang province. Along with these, there is a myriad of historical, cultural relics and scenic sites that are recognised as heritages. The tangible material heritage is estimated to have more than 3,000 national heritages, 7,500 provincial heritages and many relics which are still counted.

The statistics of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) show that cultural heritage plays a very strong role in the development of the tourism industry, with impressive numbers. Since 2010, the number of international visitors to Vietnam has increased 2.5 times, from 5 million arrivals in 2010 to 12.9 million arrivals in 2017, up 14.5 percent per year. The number of domestic visitors increased 2.6 times, from 28 million arrivals in 2010 to 73.2 million arrivals in 2017, an average increase of 14.6 percent per year. The total revenue from tourism during the period 2010-2017 increased by an average of 26.9 percent, contributing over 7 percent of GDP, generating 1.2 million direct jobs and 3.6 million indirect jobs. In just the first half of 2018, the total number of international tourists to Vietnam reached nearly 10.5 million arrivals, while domestic tourists reached 56.2 million arrivals and total revenue from tourism reached VND403,400 billion, up 20.1 per cent over the same the same period in 2017.

In particular, some heritages have significant growth in the number of tourists. Specifically, in 2016, the Complex of Hue Monuments received over 2.5 million arrivals and increased to 3 million arrivals in 2017, in which 1.8 million arrivals are international visitors. Hoi An Ancient Town welcomed 1.96 million visitors. Other popular heritages such as Ha Long, Phong Nha Ke Bang, Trang An, Yen Tu and others have maintained this growth over the years.

Dr Ha Van Sieu, Deputy General Director of VNAT, said: "Cultural heritage is a considerably attractive tourism resource, a motive force to attract more and more domestic and foreign tourists. Cultural tourism is a cornerstone of the tourism industry, an important pillar for the development of the tourism economy along with infrastructure, facilities, technical and human resources. This is an active tool in establishing the image and tourism brand of Vietnam."

Promoting cultural heritage values
Heritage tourism often orients visitors to explore their origins, interactions and experiences in order to better understand cultural values. Therefore, this is a source of rich potential. The tourists’ demands to visit, learn and experience have urged the authorities and the local residents to feel proud, take care, preserve, restore and promote the precious values of cultural heritage. In addition, people are increasingly aware that putting cultural heritage into tourism activities will create the main livelihood of the locality, contributing to economic development.

Dr Nguyen Thu Hanh, President of the Scientific Union for Sustainable Tourism Development (STDe) said: "Cultural heritage has brought a great source of revenue for the locality from ticket sales to trading activities. Any place has a heritage which is put into tourism will witness economic development. Otherwise the cultural heritage possesses purely historical value without economic value. Additionally, part of the revenue from tourism will be returned to embellish and restore heritage.”

Over the years, many heritages have been restored and become attractive cultural-tourism products which attract tourists to visit and explore. Many localities have promoted the strengths of cultural heritage resources, offering effective solutions for conservation and sustainable promotion of cultural heritage in tourism. Besides, many policies, regulations, norms have been set. At the same time, the regulators have developed a number of strategies for the proper development of heritage tourism, highlighting the role of indigenous culture, sustainably orienting tourism activities and other activities in the heritage.

However, the rapid development of tourism has had a negative impact on cultural heritages. Especially in some aspects, over-commercialisation will lead to the risk of deteriorating identity, breaking the tradition and lifestyle of the locality. Therefore, according to Dr Ha Van Sieu, Vietnam must develop tourism industry on the basis of preserving and promoting the values of traditional cultural heritages of the nation.

In the long run, according to economic experts, the tourism industry needs to create the vitality of the cultural heritage, promote the advantage of cultural heritage resources, in which heritage tourism is the key to the development of tourism with the aim to become a spearhead economic sector. These require action and effective solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of cultural heritage travel. Particularly, the authority needs to pay attention to the promulgation of legal normative documents, outlining management policy and planning conservation and sustainable promotion of the value of cultural heritage in tourism development. The sector also needs a strategy to develop appropriate cultural tourism, including selecting tourism products based on the promotion of cultural heritage values. Especially, it is necessary to orient the tourism activities and local residents’ activities in the heart of the heritage in a sustainable way; detailing the code of conduct for the heritage; building a digital data system on Vietnamese cultural heritage, applying the 4.0 technology in managing cultural heritage and developing heritage tourism. In addition, there will be strict and thorough sanctions for violations of the heritage, along with the process of communication as well as education to raise awareness for businesses, people and tourists.

Giang Tu

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