Kien Giang Strives to Build Sea and Island Tourism Brand

5:28:26 PM | 14/12/2011

Kien Giang has huge potential for sea and island tourism development, being one of 5 localities given priority investment by Vietnam Administration of Tourism to develop sea and coastal tourism. The major concern for provincial tourism is how to wake up that potential and build up the sea tourism brand. Vietnam Business Forum has a short interview on the topic with Mr Le Minh Hoang, Director of Kien Giang Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. Ly Luong reports.                                                                               
Can you introduce something about Kien Giang’s advantages in developing sea and island tourism?
Kien Giang is considered a miniature Vietnam, with abundant and varied natural resources, including forests, mountain, river, sea, stream, island, 5 archipelagoes and over 140 islands of different sizes; and a long coast with many beautiful beaches and attractions. Besides, Kien Giang has a rich ecosystem such as sea grass ecosystem, coral reef in Phu Quoc Island’s waters, and limestone karst in Ha Tien – Kien Luong. Especially, Kien Giang also has a Biosphere Reserve certified by UNESCO on over 1.1million hectares, currently the largest in the country, a unique feature for Kien Giang tourism over other provinces having potential in sea tourism. Especially, Phu Quoc island district has been planned to develop into a special economic-administrative centre, a luxury ecotourism resort and entertainment centre of national, regional and international stature.
Kien Giang is now offering the following tourism products: ecotourism, sea resort tourism, historical relic visit, and discovery tourism, and gradually forming featured tourism products including sea and island tourism, and high quality ecotourism in Phu Quoc. Besides, Kien Giang has also paid attention to exploiting trading villages’ products (such as Phu Quoc fish sauce, pepper, tomentose rose myrtle fruit wine, and pearls), which have brought about certain success to Kien Giang tourism. All together they have made a unique brand for Phu Quoc Pearl Island.
Exploiting existing strengths and potential has resulted in a continuously growing number of tourists coming to Kien Giang. In 1998, the number of tourists was only 84,000, which increased by 9.2 times ten years later, in which the number of international visitors rose by 8.5 times. In 10 months of 2011, Kien Giang greeted over 4.423 million tourists, in which international ones accounted for 114,935, gaining turnover of VND 621 billion. As for Phu Quoc alone, the total number of tourists was 304,472, international visitors accounted for 91,507 and turnover gained was VND 458,472 billion.
How do you plan to boost communication and promotion activities regarding sea and island tourism?
Sea and island tourism is one of the core development resources. So far, Kien Giang tourism has succeeded in creating a provincial tourism image and tourism products different from those of other Mekong Delta provinces. Especially, in observance to Decision 568/QD-TTg by the Prime Minister approving the Master Plan of island economic development, the province has also mobilized departments and agencies to build up plans for sea and island tourism development in Phu Quoc, Kien Hai commune islands and islands in Ha Tien – Kien Luong.
The tourism industry has also participated in fairs and conferences of tourism promotion and communication. In 2009, the industry coordinated with the Mekong Delta Tourism Association to hold the Workshop “Association for the delta - sea and island tourism development”.
How has the province implemented cooperation to develop tourism in general and sea and island tourism in the past time?
For the past time, Kien Giang tourism has cooperated with Mekong Delta provinces and cities, Ho Chi Minh City, Lam Dong and is expanding to others across the country. Association and cooperation brought about certain results: some large scale enterprises from Ho Chi Minh City have come to set up branches and representative offices to expand markets and strengthen relationships with local businesses. Some others from Mekong Delta provinces and cities also often exchange tourists with island district, entering joint ventures to establish tourism enterprises. Especially, the foundation of the Mekong Delta key economic zone has given Phu Quoc tourism chances of linking with these more and more dynamic economic areas. Air travel from the island district to Can Tho City and Ho Chi Minh City has fostered investment into high quality passenger transport from the mainland to the district has also created favourable conditions for enterprises to expand to the district and vice versa.
Concerning foreign association, the tourism industry has entered cooperation with many localities in Cambodia and Thailand. The industry has also opened tours and trekking trails from Kien Giang into provinces and cities of Cambodia and Thailand; and is going to link sea tours from Ha Tien to Kep, Kampot, etc in Cambodia.
In order to promote sea and island tourism in sustainable and efficient ways, ensuring a harmonious connection with the habitat, what strategic measures and steps will provincial tourism take?
Given provincial advantages of sea, islands and archipelagos, it is practical and necessary to build up the brand of sea and island tourism. To do this effectively requires cooperation and contribution of both central and local departments and agencies; coordination of governmental management offices, enterprises and people in conducting the following measures:
Firstly, tourism planning activities should be comprehensive and require coordination between industries. Introduce tourism investment preferential policies and mechanism, especially sea, coastal, and island tourism activities using marine resources such as coral reefs and sea grass ecosystems. Management should be strengthened on tourism resource exploitation in general and sea tourism in particular. At the same time, we will study, survey, and build plans to preserve traditional trading villages in coastal areas, create jobs and better people’s life there, contributing to sustainable tourism development.
In addition, more attention should be paid to investment and investment mobilization for infrastructure, such as an international tourism harbour for large ships visiting Phu Quoc. Attach importance to raising the quality of facilities in key provincial tourism areas such as Rach Gia, Phu Quoc Island, Ha Tien, and Kien Luong by road, water transport and by air as well as design and exploit various tours for national and international visitors. Besides, Kien Giang sea tourism makes significant contribution to sea, coastal economic development and sea tourism brand building, the Government should speed up Phu Quoc Island planning as well as create conditions for qualified investors to develop infrastructure on the island.