Vietnam Tourism Master Plan with environment and resource management strategy
Prof. Dr. Vu Tuan CanhVice Chairman, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism
Located in the South East Asian Region, where tourism activities are evolving ebulliently, Vietnam has a rather favourable geographical position for international communication and economic, tourism development, ensuring its integration soon with the tendency of the regional and the world-wide tourism development.
But there exists an undeniable reality that Vietnam is still poor and undeveloped. Most of the countries in the region have by far surpassed Vietnam. Estimating the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the UNDP Report of 1994 on the development of human resources has ranked Vietnam 153th among 173 nations in the world and the 116th if some other social criteria are included (Human Development Index, HDI).
The Vietnam Tourism could not be out of mentioned situation in this context. In 1988, Vietnam had methodology only 92,500 international visitors, most of them were those who come to Vietnam according to political-economic exchange agreements and overseas Vietnamese coming back to see their househood. This number made about one tenth of that of Philippines, one fifteenth of Indonesia, and nearly one fortieth of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore by that time.
Concerning the hotel capacity, in 1988 in Vietnam, there were only roughly 18,000 hotel rooms, of which only some thousands methodology international standards. There almost missed the leisure and entertainment resorts. So it was understandable when the specialists of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) regarded Vietnam Tourism backward of 20 years by that time in comparison with other countries on the region and forecasted that Vietnam could only receive one million international visitors until the year 2000.
"The renovation" and "open door policy" had waken up the great potentials of the whole Vietnamese nation, thanks to that, the economic situation of Vietnam step by step is stabilizing, the inflation speed of about 500 percent during the period of 1985-1987 has reduced to 5-3 percent in 1993. If the growth rate of GDP was 3.9 percent in the 1986-1990 period, then during 1991-1994 it reached 8.5 percent. In order to avoid further lag, the strategic target of Vietnam economy to the year 200 is not only to increase twice of the total GDP against 1990 generally, but also double average GDP per capita.
To be integrated with the overall development if the country, Vietnam Tourism has gathered noticeable progress and day by positively effects on many fields of the socio-economic life. In the period 1991-1995 the annual growth rate of international arrivals in Vietnam aversely reaches 30 to 40 percent. In 1990 Vietnam received 250,00 international visitors, this number was 440,000 in 1992 and million in 1994, in 1996 Vietnam received 1,6 million international visitors. In comparison with other 5 South East Asian countries, the gap of international visitors receiving rate in 1994 between Vietnam and these countries has been considerably narrowed against 1988. It made 2/3 of total number of the international visitors of Philippines, 1/3 of that of Indonesia and nearly 1/4 of the international visitors arrived in Thailand, Singapore or Malaysia.
In 1996, Vietnam had nearly 50,000 hotel rooms, among them 28,000 were classified as international standard rooms. Up to December 1996 there were 225 projects on tourism and hotel to be invested by foreign capital with the total amount of 5.6 billions USD, that makes more 1/5 of the total foreign investment in Vietnam. Thanks to these projects, to the year 1997, Vietnam should have roughly 95 more new or newly upgraded hotels, with about 13,800 international rooms, among them there will be 10 five stars, 46 three stars hotel. The rests are one and two stars hotels. So that until 1997, Vietnam should have totally 31,500 hotel rooms of international standard.
Simultaneously with developing the accommodation facilities, upgrading the infrastructure, during the past recent time, some major projects on the construction of such tourism and leisure complexes as the Mi An North marine tourism area (in Da Nang) Thuan An beach (in Hue) were approved. Some similar projects for Halong Bay (Quang Ninh), Van Phong Gulf (Nha Trang) and Lang Co (Thua Thien-Hue).
With a very convenient location for international communication, Vietnam has good conditions for developing the transportation of all road, rail, sea and air ways, linking it with other countries in the world.
The tourism potential of Vietnam is very rich both in nature and humanity (beaches, islands, caves and grottoes, water resources, mineral water, rare plants and animals, many unreported natural landscapes, historical, art, architectural remains, the handicraft streets and villages, unusual customs and habits and cultural traditions of a 54 ethnic community, living in Vietnam territory). These tourist resources are clustered into groups spreading along coastal areas by the Pan-Vietnam National road, near to the big cities, the important bordergates, so that creating good conditions for planning, and setting up the large tourist centers of Vietnam.
Considerating the important deal of tourism in the period of renovation and in the overall socio-economic development strategy of the country, last few years, Vietnamese Government had released many policies, that created conditions for tourism development. The organization system and tourist management from center to provinces are being strengthened for confirming their function of State control upon the tourist activities. The master plan for tourism development to the year 2010 in Vietnam had been approved, that defined the main targets and strategy for the tourism development of the country.
1. Objectives and development strategy of Vietnam Tourism until 2010
The development planning of Vietnam tourism has defined objectives for short-, medium- and long-term plans up to the year 2010. In the year 2000, Vietnam will receive from 3.5 to 3.8 million international tourists and about 9 million in 2010. The turnover from international travel business (excluding transportation) will reach 2.60 billion USD in 2000 and about 11.80 billions USD in 2010. Domestic tourists will be 11 millions in 2000 and 25 millions in 2010. In 1994 GDP in tourism was just 3.5 % GDP of the whole country. Itís estimated to be 9.6 % in 2000 and 12 % in 2010.
To this end, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism will develop strategies for Tourism development.
1.1. Strategy in Human Resources Development
Attention will be focused on training and retraining to meet the immediate requirements and for long-term ones. Training can be done regularly at home or abroad.
1.2. Products strategy
Diversification and improvement of tourism products to meet the world market to produce more specific products with nationally traditional cultural, historic features, to meet more specialized products such as health tours, cave tours, golf tours, sports tours, fishing tours... and tours for handicraftsmen, traditional villages, festival tours, conference tours.
1.3. Strategy to improve qualities in tourism services
Improving tourism qualities in service behavior, diversification and convenience of products and marketing abilities.
1.4. Strategy in preserving, renovating and developing tourism resources and environment (Natural and human resources)
Depending on tourism localities to define areas to be protected or planned in land reservation, working out regulations for classifications and protection of scenic spots.
1.5. Strategy in tourist investment
Encouraging domestic and overseas investment in the whole country (both state and private sectors), joint-venture investment in large hotels, high-ranking stars or resorts.
1.6. Marketing strategy
Doing research, analysis and evaluation of present markets and potentials of Vietnam Tourism o integrate into regional and the worldís tourism as soon as possible. The major markets of Vietnam Tourism will be countries in South-East and Pacific Asia, Western Europe and North America.
2. Orientations in Tourism territory
Based on the orientations of tourism territory, Vietnam has been divided into 3 zones (Map 1)
Northern part: including 27 provinces and from Ha Giang to Ha Tinh. Ha Noi Capital is the center of the whole zone and of the triangle growth rate: Ha Noi-Hai Phong-Ha Long.
North central part: including 6 provinces and cities from Quang Binh to Quang Ngai. Hue and Da Nang are the centers of the zone and Hue-Da Nang-Lao Bao as a development axis.
South central part and southern part including 28 provinces and cities from Kontom to Minh Hai with two sub-zone: Southern central part including 9 provinces, and Southern part 19 provinces, the center is Ho Chi Minh City, with 3 triangles growth rate: Ho Chi Minh City-Nha Trang-Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City-Can Tho-Kien Giang and Ho Chi Minh City-Bien Hoa-Vung Tau and the tourism triangle: Nha Trang-Ninh Chu-Da Lat.
Map 1. The 3 major tourist zones in Vietnam
Map 2. Prioritised zones for tourism development in Vietnam
3. Prioritized zones for tourism development
On the basis of reasonable exploitation, potentials of the regions convenient for environment protection, Vietnam is divided into 7 prioritized zones for investment (Map 2).
1. Ha Noi Capital and the surrounding areas, including Bac Ninh, Ha Tay, Ninh Binh, Vinh Phu, constitute weekend resorts for Hanoians. Projects including ancient quarters, West Lake, Co Loa-Soc Son, Tam Coc-Bich Dong, Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh), Huong pagoda, Ba Vi-Dong Mo, Suoi Hai (Ha Tay), Tien Son (Bac Ninh), Ba Be Lake (Cao bang). Grottoes complex in Tam Thanh, Nhi Thanh, Nhat Thanh (Lang Son) and cultural villages of ethnic minorities in Ha Tay.
2. Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Island-Do Son Peninsula, which belong to Quang Ninh and Hai Phong. The priority should be given to projects on Cat Ba Island and on the water surface of Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay.
3. The area of Hue-Da Nang-Lao Bao where tourism projects should concentrate on preserving and exploiting cultural and architectural heritages (Hue) revolutionary ones (Quang Tri) and natural heritages along: Hue-Lang Co-Hai Van-Son Tra-Da Nang. The Coastal lien from Nam O bay to ancient town of Hoi An, Phong Nha cave (Quang Binh)-attention will paid to infrastructure in tourism development linking with Lao and Thailand through Asian highway to Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore in the future.
4. The area if Van Phong bay-Nha Trang-Ninh Chu-Da lat where the marine tourism should be integrated with mountain tourism. Big investment should be out in the largest marine tourism areas in Vietnam at Van Phong and Hai Lanh after the year 2000 in the sea Dai Lanh, Van Phong bay, Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa), restoring railway line: Ninh Thuan-Da Lat, reestablishing tourist areas: Ho Chi Minh City-Da Lat-Nha Trang, setting up cultural villages of Tay Nguyen Minority in Lac commune (Da Lat), construction of airport Dong Tac (Tuy Hoa) to meet the needs of transportation of tourists in southern central (the airport is 300 km far from Van Phong bay-Khanh Hoa).
5. The Vung Tau-Phu Quoc coastal area, where tourism projects should focus on weekend recreation spots for Ho Chi Minh City on Long Hai beach. There should be a priority projects for Com Dao and replanting Vung Tau Coastal area.
6. Ho Chi Minh City and the surrounding areas taking advantages of Ho Chi Minh City to exploit tourism potentials on Saigon river to Mekong Delta provinces, until to Phnompenh (Combodia), Lao and Thailand. The project of cultural village if minorities in Ho Chi Minh City, an entertainment center in Ho Chi Minh City and the surroundings (Thu Duc-Bien Hoa).
7. Ha Tien-Phu Quoc area is the unique marine tourism area in the Western Vietnam. The investment project in Phu Quoc should be carefully considered in the context of the overall development of this island.
4. Environment management for sustainable development
To carry out the Master plan for Vietnam Tourism Development, combining the environment management and all sources, in addition to the strict implementation of regulations of Vietnam laws such as laws on protection of nature and environment, ordinances in tourism and concerning laws, Vietnam must be take care if the management, exploitation if marine environment. That is the reason why more than 70 percent of the leisure and tourist destinations of Vietnam are located at the coastal areas, attracting annually 80 percent of the total tourist number. The Vietnam coastal line is 3,200 km long, which contains about 125 large and small beaches, the biggest reaches 15 km to 18 km long and the smallest are also 1 to 2 km long at least. Among them, many are valuable for tourist assets that create also of famous tourist resorts in the Vietnam coastal and marine areas, the two of those-Ha Long Bay and former Hue ancient capital-have been recognized as the world natural and cultural heritages by UNESCO.
Vietnam sea occupies particular important position in using exploiting for the social economic development targets of the country, especially the big role has such sea economics as mining, oil exploitation, sea transportation, fishing, planning, sea food processing and tourism etc... However, because of the lack of synchronous planning, strict control for exploiting and using coastal and sea resources, many damages have been occurred to the environment at these areas.
Based on the geographical, historical and economic conditions of the Vietnam coastal and sea areas, a plan for tourism development of the coastal and sea have been studied and adequated to other marine economic sectors to recommend a larger construction structure to change planing scale from 5-10 km to hundreds of km. The current large scale of marine tourism environment is very easy to be destroyed by modern geographic process and the impact of human activities. The high density of tourists, concentrated in only few resorts has created an unacceptable stress, which can destroy the natural value of these areas. To develop the marine tourism in Vietnam, it is necessary to focus on the land fund and sea environment protection, that will bring benefits to the tourist construction land for invalid purposes. Regrettably that up to date in Vietnam the encroachment of valid land for tourism is still happening for other purposes such as building the separated houses, lumpish architectures, stores, ports... at coastal areas of Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Thanh Hoa, Vung Tau...
In order to concentrate the investment for tourism development in Vietnam, the Master plan has indicated 7 areas which are given priority to investment in tourism development, 5 of them are coastal and sea areas.
In order to concentrate all investment for implementing above development strategies of Vietnam tourism as well as the architectural solution to maintain the conservation of sustainable tourism environment-Vietnam tourism is trying best in training and education of tourism human resource, gradually socializing mass education on tourism to enhance the knowledge of tourism, creating new human resource to satisfy the growing demands of the industrialization-modernization and to establish sound and civilized tourism environment.