Developing Tourism into Spearhead Economic Sector

9:36:13 AM | 12/23/2021

Bac Kan is blessed with tourism potential such as beautiful natural landscapes and unique cultural identities of ethnic groups. In recent years, the province has accelerated advertising, promotion and cooperation to turn tourism into a key economic sector. Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr. Ha Van Truong, Director of Bac Kan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Duy Binh reports.

To raise tourism quality and match tourism development commensurate with existing potential, what solutions has Bac Kan province adopted?

Bac Kan makes tourism a general economic sector, a foundation motivating the development of other economic sectors and realizing the goal of becoming a key economic sector by 2025. Recently, the Provincial Party Committee, the Provincial People’s Council and the Provincial People’s Committee of Bac Kan directed the tourism sector to work out tourism development master plans, focusing on Ba Be Lake and Cho Don Secure Warzone.

Bac Kan is home to the Then practice of Tay and Nung peoples recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, two historic protected warzones (Cho Don and Ba Be), seven national historical sites, 17 national intangible cultural heritages and 49 provincial historical and scenic sites. Besides, this place features the unique cultural identity of seven ethnic groups, namely Tay, Nung, Kinh, Dao, Mong, Hoa and San Chay. However, the current development of Bac Kan tourism is not commensurate with local potential. Service quality has not met tourism needs while the province lacks experience in services linked with agriculture, cultural identity, traditional handicraft villages and cuisine. Public investment for tourism development is still low. Tourist sites lack well-made detailed plans. The province lacks resources for embellishing and restoring historical and cultural relics for tourism development because the local budget is not enough to make sufficient investment for tourism, attract significant tourism projects, launch regular advertising and promotion, and train adequate tourism workers. As local tourism companies are small in scale, they find it difficult to establish cooperation with external firms.

To address those weaknesses, Bac Kan province proposed the Government and central authorities invest in transport infrastructure for the locality; directed local agencies to prioritize investment resources to improve tourism quality, meet increasing tourist requirements in 2021 - 2025, strengthen training and improve the quality of tourism human resources to meet development requirements: increasing and standardizing tour guides, improving professional skills and English communication skills for staff working in reception, room, bar and restaurant  business. At the same time, the province expanded and developed experience tourism. In September 2021, the Provincial People's Committee directed the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism to work with the Ba Be District People's Committee, the Management Board of Ba Be National Park, the Management Board of Ba Be Tourist Area, and Khang Ninh and Nam Mau communes to survey Ba Be Lake Tourist Area and community tourism villages along Ba Be Lake to propose tourism development solutions, report specific solutions to deal with difficulties in this work to the Provincial People's Committee. Expectedly, in 2021 - 2025, many tourism experience development projects will add products and services to the local tourism industry and help make and diversify attractive tourism products to draw tourists to Bac Kan.

Given the complicated development of the COVID-19 epidemic, Bac Kan province’s tourism has been significantly affected. To stimulate post-COVID-19 tourism demand, what specific plans and activities has the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched?

Going through four COVID-19 epidemic outbreaks that caused heavy human and economic losses across the country, Bac Kan is still considered a safe destination for tourists. However, all socioeconomic development aspects of Bac Kan province were also hurt by trade disruptions and lockdowns. The tourism sector also plummeted as in epidemic-hit provinces. Tourism companies terminated their operations and slid into extreme difficulty. Many had to change business or find jobs in other industries while waiting for domestic economic reopening.

Therefore, to stimulate tourism demand after the epidemic, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Bac Kan province has implemented specific solutions as follows:

First, ensuring safety for tourists and destinations: The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism issued Official Letter 1274/SVHTTDL-QLDL dated October 21, 2021 on implementation of Resolution 128 of the Government on "Safe and flexible adaptation, effective control of the COVID-19 epidemic"; and Dispatch 1250/SVHTTDL-QLDL dated October 15, 2021 on preparation of necessary conditions to welcome tourists in the new situation.

Second, strengthening tourism communication, advertising and promotion: The Bac Kan Tourism Promotion Center printed and published 1,000 tourist handbooks; 1,000 tourism brochures (in Vietnamese and English) to deliver at local and external tourism events; and coordinated with VOV TV channel of the Voice of Vietnam to produce media products on Bac Kan tourism.

Third, developing a variety of tourism products to meet new market trends. The province focused on investing, building and developing tourism products such as ecotourism, leisure tourism, community tourism, cultural and historical tourism; restoring and preserving traditional festivals and intangible cultural heritage sites to woo tourists; and opened small, safe and attractive tourist spots to serve travelers in small groups.

Fourth, fostering digital transformation and information technology application to tourism. The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism developed the "Project on information technology application to serve smart tourism in Bac Kan province", planned to open the Bac Kan Smart Tourism Portal in late November 2021. This will be an opportunity to connect destinations with domestic and international tour operators and tourists.

Fifth, supporting businesses to accelerate tourism recovery. The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to study and coordinate with relevant bodies and tourism firms in the province on specific plans on tourism stimulus, such as discounts on room rates, service charges and sightseeing tickets.

Sixth, supporting tourism human resources development for tourism recovery. In September 2021, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism organized two training courses on legal documents on tourism and provided tourism training for tourist accommodation facilities; and conducted professional inspections and granted tourist guide cards in situ.

By Vietnam Business Forum