15:01 | 11/11/2019 Society
(VEN) - Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is often regarded as a homogenous region with identical tourism products, making it hard for individual provinces to attract tourists. However, its provinces have different characteristics and solutions are needed to turn them into unique destinations.
The Mekong Delta is home to a huge resource of cultural heritage and relics, which can promote tourism development. It is also home to unique ecosystems and diverse communities unlike anywhere else in the country. It offers much more than the better-known sites of floating markets, rice paddies and orchards, such as pagodas, agricultural communities, and spectacular rural scenes, seas and islands. However, many tourists choose to visit typical Delta destinations due to an overlap in tourism products and unattractive inter-regional tour packages.
According to the Mekong Delta Tourism Association, the whole region welcomed more than 33 million visitors in 2017, including 2.8 million foreigners with revenue of over VND17 trillion. Each tourist visiting the Mekong Delta spent about US$22 per day, 75 percent less than the average in the country. Overall, the annual tourism growth in the region is nine percent, while growth in other tourism regions generally reaches two-digit levels.
Authorities agree that underdeveloped tourism infrastructure and lack of traffic connections via roads, railways, waterways and air are major obstacles to tourism development in the region. In addition, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta faces many climate change problems, which partly affect tourism development. Therefore, Mekong Delta provinces need to set forth a new vision and solutions for tourism development, while maximizing resources and economic sectors to create differences in sustainable development.
Attending familiarization visits (famtrips) to survey Mekong Delta provinces, many businesses say that the region has varied characteristics. In particular, provinces have made great efforts to improve service quality. However, they need to have new tourist destinations to extend visitors’ length of stay.
Under the master plan for tourism development in the Mekong Delta region, the western cluster comprising Can Tho City and the six provinces of Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Soc Trang, An Giang, Hau Giang and Kien Giang will focus on unique tourism products, such as sea and island leisure tourism, eco-tourism, and cultural tourism.
Phung Xuan Khanh, director of the Tien Phong Travel Company, said each locality should create its own specific identity. For example, Bac Lieu Province should promote Don ca tai tu (southern amateur music) and the dance of the Khmer ethnic minority. Can Tho should develop meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibition (MICE) tourism, and tours to cultural and historical sites and traditional craft villages, while An Giang Province should focus on cultural and spiritual tourism, such as the traditional cow racing festival and tours to Sam Mountain and the Tra Su mangrove forest.
Localities should take into consideration the demand of different age groups and incomes as well as specific market segments, such as local and inbound tourists to develop tourism products and marketing strategies. Tourism products for inbound visitors should focus on eco-cultural tourism tours, craft villages, local lifestyles and festivals. Spiritual tourism is mostly favored by local tourists.
According to the master plan for tourism development until 2020, with a vision to 2030, the Mekong Delta is expected to welcome about 34 million visitors, including 3.5 million foreigners by 2020, and about 52 million tourists, including 6.5 million foreigners by 2030. The region’s tourism revenue is expected to reach about VND25 trillion by 2020 and more than VND111 trillion by 2030.
Pham The Trieu, deputy director of An Giang Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Mekong Delta provinces should strengthen tourism promotion activities through fairs and exhibitions, and organize visits of travel professionals to introduce new tourism products.
The Vietnam International Travel Mart 2019 will take place in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho from November 29 to
December 1. It is expected to draw more than 300 travel, accommodation, aviation and catering enterprises. The
event will feature programs to promote tourism activities, art performances and food festivals highlighting tourism in
the Mekong Delta region.