2:56:00 PM | 17/5/2016
Travelling trends of tourists, particularly international travellers, have changed dramatically in recent years. They tend to search for natural hideaways, explore local cultural identities, and mingle with community life in destinations. With its fresh air and pleasant climate, Tien Giang province is one of the most appealing tourist destinations in the Mekong Delta region. Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr Nguyen Ngoc Minh, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to learn about local tourism industry. Cuong Nguyen reports.
With its convenient transportation systems and well-known historical sites, Tien Giang is an alluring destination for tourists who seek to enjoy ecological tourism, garden and water world-discovering tourism, community tourism and historical cultural tourism. Could you please share more about these strong tourism forms?
Situated on the northern bank of the Tien River and with a 32-km coast, Tien Giang is endowed with beautiful landscapes in three ecological areas: freshwater alluvial ecological areas, mangrove ecological areas and Dong Thap Muoi flooded ecological areas. The dense network of rivers and canals has created orchards where locally special fruits are grown such as Hoa Loc mango, Co Co grapefruit, Cai Be citrus, Lo Ren Vinh Kim star apple, Ngu Hiep durian, Cho Gao dragon fruit and Go Cong cherry. The province also has 21 national historical cultural sites, festivals and cottage industry villages.
Diverse natural resources and rich humanities plus typical traditional cultural characteristics of southern water world enable tourism companies to invest in opening and building different tourism products like travelling on the Mekong River, boating in canals, listening to traditional folk singing, catching fish in canals, visiting traditional handicraft villages and floating markets, enjoying local fruit specialties and cuisines, experiencing overnight in old-style houses. These products exerted a strong pull to tourists to water-world tourism, cultural tourism and community tourism products.
How impressively did the tourism industry of Tien Giang province grow in tourist arrivals and tourism revenue in the 2010 - 2015 period?
Tien Giang province made considerable investments for tourism development in the past years and enjoyed rewards. More economic sectors engaged in tourism business, particularly the private sector increased investment capital in accommodation facilities, restaurants and tourist destinations. These robust investments produced marked results, provided jobs for local labourers and increased public awareness of tourism economic value and its contributions to local socioeconomic development. In the 2010 - 2015 period, the tourism sector of Tien Giang province kept a steady average arrival growth of 9.68 per cent year on year and welcomed over 1 million visitors a year. In 2015, Tien Giang served 1,525,100 tourists, including 517,200 internationals.
By the end of 2015, Tien Giang province had 51 travel companies, 21 nationally certified historical and cultural relics, 24 major tourist attractions, 14 cottage industry villages, 643 tourism boats, 252 tourist accommodation establishments, three luxury resorts and many tourist gardens, and smallholding travel services units (including three ancient houses aged nearly 100 years).
In tourism development, creating differences is the most important. How has the province continuously created new tourist products and routes?
In the past years, the tourism socialisation in Tien Giang province has produced optimistic results. The province canvassed the local community to take part in tourism development like organising river-based tourism services, visiting orchards and performing folk singing to create unique differences from other localities in the Mekong Delta. However, this well-planned tourism method has been copied by other provinces and they have become competitors to Tien Giang province in tourist attraction. For that reason, to increase the distinctiveness of its tourism products and services, the tourism industry of Tien Giang province focused on building knowledge-based products in 2015 in all three ecological areas in combination with locally characteristic values to create distinctive tourism products.
Specifically, in the freshwater ecological area, the province primarily develops products in popular tourist attractions like Thoi Son Islet in My Tho City, Tan Phong Islet in Cai Lay district and floating markets in Cai Be district, and opens sightseeing tours to historical and cultural relics, orchards and traditional villages. In coastal saltwater ecological area in Go Cong, the province develops Tan Thanh - Hang Duong marine ecological tourism site in combination with sightseeing tours to historical and cultural relics like Hoang Gia Mausoleum, Truong Dinh Mausoleum, cherry gardens, ancestral cabinet production villages and shrimp sauce production villages in Go Cong. Tien Giang province has also called investors to tap the potential of the third ecoregion - Dong Thap Muoi wetland ecological area. The province builds the Dong Thap Moi ecological area with 107 ha of melaleuca forests, Truc Lam Enlightenment Monastery covering 30 ha - the largest in southern Vietnam by area where new feature tourism products will be created, including spiritual tourism.
Could you please tell us more about investment attraction results in the tourism sector in the province to date? To increase investing efficiency in hospitality industry, which policies and mechanisms has the province introduced to develop tourism?
The province has invited and facilitated investors to carry out ecological tourism projects. In addition to tapping natural resources to create tourism services, Tien Giang will continue to invest in developing and expanding tourist attractions like Tan Thanh marine tourist site, Thoi Son Islet tourist site, tourist attractions in Cai Be and Cai Lay districts. The province will restore and renovate historical and cultural monuments, develop traditional festivals, cottage industries and orchards, build and upgrade accommodation facilities, transportation facilities, develop tourism human resources, constantly improve the quality of products and services to meet domestic and international tourist needs.
Particularly in 2015, the province licensed three tourism projects, including an ecological resort in Tan Phu Dong district and a water world resort on Thai Son Islet, My Tho City. At present, these three projects are being prepared for commencement.
Currently, attracting investment capital into tourism in Tien Giang province is facing difficulty since most of land planned for tourism development is owned by people, not as favourable as for investment projects in industrial zones. Tien Giang province has also issued many policies to encourage, support and incentivise investment projects, including personnel training, tourism promotion, infrastructure construction, and tax breaks. Hopefully, tourism projects will help diversify tourism products and improve product and service quality for tourists visiting Tien Giang province.