4:56:20 PM | 25/9/2013
Granted with preferential climate, attractive natural landscapes and being home of ethnic minorities of the Central Highlands region which make a unique cultural atmosphere, in the past time, Gia Lai has become one of the most appealing sites for both national and international tourists. However, in comparison with other provinces with long tourism history in the Central Highland area, the number of visitors and tourism turnover in Gia Lai is still modest and Gia Lai tourism still has many unexploited potential.
Development goes hand in hand with cultural value preservation
At present, Gia Lai tourism is typically eco-cultural and mainly exploited with in-province tourism programmes such as: visits to ethnic hamlets, picnics, elephant riding, trekking, visits to battlefields, festivals, trading villages etc. Besides, some travel agents are gradually associating and introducing some tourism programmes with other provinces and neighbouring countries such as China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, through Le Thanh and Bo Y International Border Gates.
In the past time, Gia Lai province has also emphasised planning and development of some projects including: Tonle Sap Garden, Phu Cuong Waterfall, Gia Lai Park of ethnic cultures, Ayun Ha Lake eco-tourism site, and Kon Ka Kinh National Park. Therefore, diverse tourism activities are appealing more and more visitors coming to Gia Lai.
Regarding economic aspect, Gia Lai’s annual GDP growth rate in last few years was 13.6 percent on average, while the commerce-service sector (including tourism) grew by 15 percent/year, accounting for 30.2 percent of provincial GDP. Individually, the tourism sector has maintained annual growth rates of 12.35 percent regarding visitors, over 27 percent regarding turnover and more than 30 percent concerning tourism GDP.
However, according to Director Phan Xuan Vu – Gia Lai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, another crucial success is that the provincial efforts have helped preserve local natural and social-cultural values, thereby Gia Lai features cultural festivals and some traditional occupations have been revived such as knitting, brocade embroidery and traditional musical instrument making. Hence, local residents have had more jobs created, with gradually improving income and awareness.
Increased level of tourism
Despite considerable achievements, in general, Gia Lai tourism hasn’t appeared competitive nationally or internationally given its limitations such as: limited variety and low quality of tourism products which are mainly exploited from existing natural resources and cultural features of ethnic groups; weak operation of travel agents, little attention paid to investment and restoration of vestiges, visit sites and brand development of Gia Lai tourism.
Understanding the importance and role of tourism toward the provincial socio-economic development, Gia Lai Provincial Party Committee issued Resolution 13-NQ/TU dated August 26th 2008 on tourism development to 2015 and orientation to 2020, aiming at rapid but sustainable tourism development so that it becomes an economic sector with remarkable contribution to service sector GDP by 2015 and one of the province's most important economic sectors by 2020.
Mr Phan Xuan Vu said that in order to successful implement this strategy, the Authority required relevant agencies as well as Gia Lai tourism to apply feasible solutions such as actively call for investment, efficiently mobilize and use funds for development of tourism forms, especially eco-tourism and cultural-historical tourism which suit local strengths and potentials; improve the quality of existing tourism forms and develop new ones; and foster connections with other provinces, cities and regional countries. Emphasis should be laid on core tourism products such as eco-tourism, cultural – historical tourism, and resorts.
In addition, attention should be paid to expansion of supporting services such as caravan tourism, business trip, shopping, and trading villages. The advantages of international and national border gates in Gia Lai and the Central Highland region should be exploited to organize package tours with key markets of ASEAN countries including Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. These also are advantages of supporting tourism products of which local tourism should make full use.
Another factor determining the success or failure of the development strategy is human resources. Heading for future professional tourism, Gia Lai needs to strengthen training and retraining of labourers in tourism enterprises and business units to improve qualification and knowledge of personnel in order to meet increasing demands of visitors. There should be plans for training professional knowledge and skills as well as foreign languages for officials and civil servants in sectoral and public governance.
Furthermore, there should be intensified experience sharing among localities and international organizations through domestic and overseas seminars, conferences, especially in ASEAN countries. Training programmes on tourism business knowledge should be developed and implemented, targeting the tourism labour force. At the same time, Gia Lai also needs to form and promote community education programmes to raise awareness of people about behaviour and communication with tourists. Meanwhile, the province can introduce policies to attract high quality workers to Gia Lai, including those for tourism.
Given its potential resources for eco-tourism and historical tourism, Gia Lai has opportunities to make this “non-smoke” industry take off in future. Practical solutions and orientations with visions and feasibility will help to lift Gia Lai tourism, contributing to local socio-economic success.