North Central Tourism - Untapped Potential

10:54:52 AM | 13/11/2019

After 5 years of implementing the tourism development planning, tourism industry in the North Central region has obtained some important achievements. The number of tourists to the North Central region has enjoyed an average increase of nearly 16% a year.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, Deputy Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the whole Northern Central region welcomed about 25.5 million visitors in 2017, of which the number of international visitors reached nearly 1.85 million, the number of domestic visitors reached 23.6 million. The number of accommodations in the region has an average growth rate of 10.2%/year. The total tourism revenue of the region has an average growth rate of 31%/year. By the end of 2017, the total revenue from tourism of the whole region reached VND30,667 billion.

Lack of cooperation

Ms. Huong said that the achieved results are not really commensurate with the tourism potential. Attracting tourism investment in many provinces in the region has improved, but the region’s tourism activities are still small, and lack links and close cooperation between localities in the region. Tourism products are not really attractive and lack competition. Tourism has created many jobs for local people in the area; however, tourism human resources in most provinces in the region are generally limited in quality and lack of professionalism.

In addition, tourism development of the region lacks contribution and sharing of localities in the region, reducing the strength and value of tourism products. Tourism services are less renovated, too dependent on some familiar markets, so they are at risk of fluctuations. In addition, many localities do not have measures to overcome the seasonality in tourism activities, so tourism effectiveness is not high.

Regarding the approach to the destination, the transportation system in the region has been interested in investment with two important routes passing through the region, National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Road, which have been upgraded and minimize travel time. The railway system connects with major centers such as Hanoi, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City, so it is convenient for tourists to travel in the region. However, in general, the road traffic is still inadequate, the railway system is outdated due to the lack of investment resources, which greatly limits the choices of travelers when they intend to use this vehicle.

On the other hand, sea transport has not been developed due to lack of investment, especially infrastructure for tourism development such as ports, sea tourism. Chan May Port of Thua Thien-Hue has received a few international ships dock, and most regional ports such as Vung Ang, Nghi Son and Cua Viet ports have not been exploited for tourism development.

The North Central Coast has four airports, including two international airports: Phu Bai Port (Thua Thien-Hue), Vinh Port and two domestic airports: Tho Xuan (Thanh Hoa) and Dong Hoi (Quang Binh). Most international ports in the region do not have direct international routes, but only through Noi Bai airport - Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat airport - Ho Chi Minh City, which also limits the accessibility of destinations.

Remarkably, the tourism products of the region are very seasonal, especially in the coastal tourist areas such as Sam Son, Cua Lo, Thien Cam. Besides, there are currently only major tourist centers in the region such as Hue, Vinh, Phong Nha - Ke Bang, Ha Tinh and Sam Son, which have invested in the type of tourism and entertainment, and most other tourist destinations almost do not have entertainment places, so visitors are bored and do not find it attractive.

Focus on developing market diversity

Diversifying the tourist market is one of the top priorities for the North Central region. For the domestic tourism market, it should focus on beach resort, spiritual festivals; encourage the development and expansion of the market for eco-tourism and official-duty tourism.

For the international tourist market, it should strongly develop the markets around Southeast Asia, especially markets in the East-West and Northeast Asia economic corridors; and enhance exploitation of traditional high-class markets from Western Europe, Northern Europe, North America, Oceania.

Besides, according to Ms. Huong, the region should focus on developing different, unique and diversified tourism products, suitable with market demand, ensuring environmental and ecological sustainability. Based on the advantages of the region's resources, we should focus on developing cultural and historical tourism products on the basis of effectively exploiting the world heritage system and cultural, historical and revolutionary relics in region; develop marine tourism products. It should diversify products to overcome seasonality; strengthening tourism product development links among localities in the region and with neighboring localities such as Da Nang, Quang Nam and Ninh Binh, as well as with other countries on the East-West economic corridor.

“It is necessary to have an appropriate investment strategy to promote the efficiency of investment capital, create a favorable investment environment for development corresponding to its role as one of the key economic branches. The region should invest in the construction of a high-quality and synchronous tourist and technical infrastructure in order to be eligible for high-paying tourists' needs,” Huong said.

In particular, General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said that the provinces of the North Central region should have mechanisms and policies to promote investment in infrastructure, especially infrastructure connecting tourist areas of the region. We should also have mechanisms and policies to encourage people and private businesses to contribute to investment projects, to build and diversify tourism products and services such as homestay services and indigenous travel guides.

In addition, it is necessary to work closely in the region on investment in tourism development, building joint regional programs, promoting regional tourism, training and developing tourism human resources, promoting links with other localities and close and effective cooperation with countries on the East-West economic corridor and in the Greater Mekong sub-region.

With many advantages in terms of cultural and historical tourism resources, unique natural and forest-ecological resources and relics system of Vietnam's famous, cultural and political people, along with the increasing investment trends in tourism development in the provinces, it is promising that tourism in the North Central region will have more opportunity to develop quickly, efficiently and sustainably in the future.

Quynh Anh