The central coastal province of Quang Nam has strived in its efforts to promote local tourism towards a sustainable model, by exploiting its heritage values combined with new ways of tourism development.
An aerial view of Hoi An ancient town. (Photo: NDO/Tan Nguyen)
Located in the central coastal region, Quang Nam has a gentle coastline stretching over 125 km from Da Nang to Quang Ngai, with many famous landscapes and historical sites, including two UNESCO-recognised world heritage sites, namely the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son sanctuary, in addition to the Cham islet world biosphere reserve. These are attractive destinations, attracting large numbers of tourists and generating revenue and jobs for Quang Nam. However, the development of tourism is also posing problems regarding preserving cultural values and the ecological environment.
Increasing infrastructure investment, making new products
Perhaps those who came to Hoi An about ten years ago and return to the ancient town now would see that it has changed a lot. Accommodation facilities and services have been actively developed, while goods and services on its old streets are also richer. Although the number of tourists has multiplied, the Hoi An people still keep their old town peaceful, friendly and hospitable.
This is one of the initial successes of Quang Nam in the field of tourism, the first being utilising the opportunity to attract investment. Immediately after the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son sanctuary were recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, Quang Nam Provincial Party Committee identified tourism as an important sector in local economic development strategy.
In 2009, the Provincial People's Committee approved an adjustment to the master plan for the province’s tourism industry in 2015 with orientation to 2020, thereby, promoting tourism in the right direction and contributing to Quang Nam’s socio-economic development. After adjusting the planning, the province took advantage of various resources for infrastructural construction in the service of tourism. In particular, the Cua Dai Bridge project and the coastal route connecting Da Nang, Hoi An and the eastern part of Quang Nam with Nui Thanh district (adjacent to Dung Quat in Quang Ngai province) have created a breakthrough for tourism in localities in the southern part of Hoi An, such as in Duy Xuyen, Thang Binh, Nui Thanh and Tam Ky. Projects on high-class resorts and coastal recreation areas, including the southern Hoi An project (in Duy Xuyen district), Vinpearl Land amusement park south of Hoi An (in Thang Binh district) and Vietnamese Heroic Mother Monument complex (Tam Ky city), have initially pulled visitors to the southern part of the province, while reducing the pressure on the ancient town of Hoi An.
Since the transport infrastructure has been connected to tourist destinations, private businesses have boldly invested in building high-class hotels and resorts with enough amenities to meet tourist needs. According to statistics from the local tourism industry, up until now, the whole province has more than 730 accommodation establishments, with 13,860 rooms, including 190 hotels, 326 homestays and 215 villas. Currently, the province has about 90 travel agencies, of which, 60 companies operate international travel. In 2019, Quang Nam attracted more than 7.6 million visitors (an increase of 17% compared to 2018), with total social income from tourism estimated at VND14 trillion (over US$600 million).
Head of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Nam province Nguyen Thanh Hong said that in recent years, in addition to creating favourable conditions for investors in tourism business activities, Quang Nam has also focused on building tourism products. In addition to renewing and improving the quality of tourism products being exploited effectively in the two world cultural heritage sites of Hoi An and My Son, as well as the Cham islet world biosphere reserve, Quang Nam has also invested in developing tourism products in nearby destinations to reduce the tourist pressure on the heritage sites during peak season.
In particular, the locality has invested in developing handicraft villages associated with tourism promotion, such as Cam Thanh coconut forest (Hoi An) and Triem Tay home garden community-based tourism (Dien Ban town), as well as tourist attractions in ethnic minority areas in the western mountainous part of the province, such as Bho Hoong and Dho Ro villages (Dong Giang district), Zara brocade weaving village and Grang waterfall (Nam Giang district), and Co Tu traditional village and Po Mu garden (Tay Giang district). Some tourism products in Hoi An such as Ancient Town Night, Walking Streets and Streets without motors have impressed a lot of visitors. In particular, The Nam Hai was voted the best resort and spa by the Condé Nast Traveller Magazine (United Kingdom) and the Montgomerie Links (in Dien Ban Town) was voted one of the best golf courses in Asia by Forbes Magazine.
Tourists visit the ancient town of Hoi An on the occasion of the Lunar New Year festival in early 2020.
(Photo: NDO/Tan Nguyen)
Renewing tourism development thinking
In fact, since their establishment and operation, local community-based tourism sites have formed attractive experiencing spaces for visitors, while creating a source of income for people in many localities and partly reducing pressure on the local heritage sites.
However, exploiting tourism and preserving the cultural value of the local heritages is still limited and needs to have appropriate solutions applied. According to leaders from the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Nam Province, the local tourism industry is facing some difficulties in development planning, combined with weaknesses in tourism competitiveness, lack of alluring products and attractions, especially entertainment areas, art performing spaces and night services, and inadequate tourism human resources.
Quang Nam Provincial People's Committee Chairman Le Tri Thanh said that the province's long-term policy is to continue promoting all resources to promote local tourism growth, building Quang Nam into a major tourist centre of the nation with high quality tourism products imbued with local cultural identities. Accordingly, Quang Nam strives to make tourism account for an increasingly high proportion in the province's GRDP structure, thereby creating a driving force in local economic restructuring that boosts Quang Nam’s rapid and sustainable development on the path of industrialisation and modernisation.
To realise this target, Quang Nam authorities have set to continue to renovate their thinking in tourism development, considering the industry an economic-service sector capable of making a major contribution to GRDP growth and motivation for other industries. In detail, Quang Nam focuses on boosting the implementation of the project on conservation and promoting the value of My Son Sanctuary during 2008-2020 and the overall investment plan for conservation, embellishment and promotion of cultural heritage values of the Hoi An ancient town associated with tourism development during 2012-2025 as per the decision from the Prime Minister. At the same time, the province will continue to mobilise all resources to invest in the construction of transport infrastructure, information - communication systems and water supply to serve tourism development.
On the other hand, Quang Nam aims to strengthen environmental protection management, ensure security and safety for tourists and continue to build attractive tourism products associated with the province’s strengths in cultural, historical and ecological tourism, beach resorts, craft villages and rural areas in ethnic minority regions. Besides, the locality will continue improving the quality of tourism human resources, focusing on supporting job conversion for local people whose livelihood is affected by the local tourism projects, on the spot training and encouraging local enterprises to coordinate with schools and labour centres to develop human resources for the tourism industry.
Quang Nam will also continue to expand its cooperation with neighbouring localities in tourism development, promote regional linkages and connect with major domestic tourism centres and other relevant sectors regarding aviation, commerce and information - media to enhance tourism and investment promotion. The province also aims to expand international cooperation and take advantage of the support from international organisations to improve the Quang Nam tourism brand in the international arena.
Such solutions are expected to help attract more tourists, create more jobs and increase revenue for local people, as well as making breakthroughs for the local socio-economic development.