Hoa Binh Constantly Promoting Tourism Potential and Strength

5:27:12 PM | 6/3/2013

With a lot of potential and strengths, Hoa Binh’s tourism sector has had strong development and affirmed its significant role in local socio-economic development. Vietnam Business Forum had a discussion with Mr Bui Ngoc Lam, Director of Hoa Binh Provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, on this issue. Quynh Ngoc reports.
With its advantages for tourism development, please share with us the outstanding results Hoa Binh’s tourism sector has achieved during recent time, and what was the decisive factor behind these results?
Hoa Binh is a mountainous province with a lot of advantages for boosting and developing tourism activities. The tourism resources of Hoa Binh are plentiful and strongly reflect its unique features. The province is blessed with both natural and cultural resources, which constitute good conditions for the development of a vast range of tourism products and attractive tourism areas. Last year, the tourism sector gained encouraging results: many newly opened tourism areas attracted good numbers of visitors. There are now over 240 tourist accommodation establishments in the province with 2,300 rooms, 24 of which are hotels and 170 are guest houses. 50 households are involved in providing community based tourism services in communes and villages in districts of Cao Phong, Tan Lac, Lac Son and Mai Chau.
Particularly, after the Conference on the Promotion of Investment in Tourism 2011, there were positive changes in tourism activities in the province, i.e. the number of tourists to Hoa Binh witnessed a significant and steady increase. In 2012, the total number of tourists reached 1,638,000, up 18.3 percentage against that of the same period in the previous year (129,000 international arrivals and 1,509,000 domestic arrivals – up 42 percent and 16.5 percent against 2011, respectively). An income of VND535 billion was generated from tourism (115 percent of the plan set for the year).
To achieve these results, Hoa Binh province implemented a lot of solutions with a view to boosting development of the tourism sector, including:
Tourism is identified as an important economic sector which contributes to shifting economic structure, eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, generating employment for locals, raising revenue, conserving and improving cultural values, protecting the environment and well maintaining social security and politics. The province has enthusiastically collaborated with other provinces in the Northwest region to implement tourism programmes and events within the cooperative programme for the development of the 8 Greater Northwest provinces. Efforts have also been made in order to further enhance regional and national cooperation. In addition, Hoa Binh has effectively mobilised resources from economic sectors to invest in tourism development. Strengths and potentials have initially been exploited for the development of products and services of good quality to attract and serve both international and domestic tourists. At the same time, collaboration among districts and cities has been accelerated, showing strong inter-sector and interregional collaboration and socialisation for tourism development and improved competitiveness in the tourism sector.
Giving priority to the development of cultural – historical tourism, eco-tourism and spiritual tourism is considered the right direction for the development of the province’s tourism sector. What policies does Hoa Binh have to better exploit its tourism potential in the time to come? 
During the past years, Hoa Binh has accelerated investment attraction into the sector, the effective use of investment sources, State administration over investment activities, improvement of investment environment; created agreement in investment attraction and simplified investment procedures with a view to quickly enlarging the proportion of tourism in the economic structure, attaching tourism development to job creation, improving living standards of local people, protecting and promoting cultural values, contributing to shifting economic structure and meeting economic integration requirements. Further attention has been paid to strengthening the cultural and ecological tourism products in Mai Chau, Tan Lac and Da Bac districts, and the spiritual tourism products in districts of Lac Thuy and Cao Phong. Furthermore, the sports tourism product in Hoa Binh Lake area has been better exploited to attract a greater number of tourists to the province.
Our direction for tourism development is to prioritize investment in tourism infrastructure works in order to better exploit tourism resources step by step; keep developing tourism products; develop technical tourism infrastructure; draw investment for the establishment of a system of interregional attractive tourist routes and sites; create favourable conditions for access to potential tourist attractions and expand collaboration and integration. Particularly, top priority is given to Hoa Binh Lake National Tourist Area for Relaxation and Sports, and five districts and cities in the vicinity of the lake, so that the tourism development strategy can be implemented for Hoa Binh and its neighbouring provinces. 
At the same time, we focus on promoting our tourism potential and sustainable tourism development; diversifying tourism products and services as well as improving their quality. Projects which either invest in development of new and unique tourism products or are of large scale or attract local labourers are given priority. Investment has also been made to develop community-based tourism, new rural areas and traditional trades. All the resources and economic sectors, both domestic and international, have been stimulated and mobilised for tourism development.
In Hoa Binh, in addition to common policies issued by the State, what other policies and preferential treatments are offered to enterprises investing in the tourism sector?
Besides common policies of the State such as tax policies on projects, land rental fee, provision of information about investment environment and policies, socio-economic development master plan, land planning, construction planning and sectoral planning, etc., enterprises investing in the tourism sector are entitled to other preferential policies and treatments; the one-stop-shop mechanism is being perfected and many administrative procedures being simplified to facilitate the initial investment and operation of enterprises and investors.