Son La province’s tourism has thrived in recent years, particularly after the Government adopted the “Master plan for Moc Chau national tourism zone development to 2020, with a vision to 2030”. To learn more of its tourism development, Vietnam Business Forum Magazine has an interview with Mr Dang The Hung, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Son La province.
Could you please briefly introduce Son La province’s tourism development in the past year? How do you assess those outcomes? What are pros and cons?
2016 is the second year Son La province carries out a series of approved tourism plans such as Moc Chau national tourism development master plan, amended Son La tourism development master plan and Son La hydropower reservoir tourism development plan.
In addition to effectively tapping tourism potential and advantages in a sustainable way, preserving national cultural identity, protecting the environment, conserving the ecological system, ensuring social security, order and safety, Son La province will focus on developing tourism products based on the sustainable exploitation of local tourism resources, particularly ecological tourism and cultural tourism products. The province will concentrate on three main tourist areas: Moc Chau national tourism zone, Son La City and Son La hydropower reservoir. The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Son La province has advised the provincial government on community tourism development policy to 2020 and suggested that the Provincial People’s Committee submit the policy to the Provincial People’s Council for approval in December 2016.
In the first 11 months of 2016, tourist arrivals to the province were estimated at 1.645 million, including 40,000 foreign tourists. Tourism revenue grossed VND721 billion, up 12 per cent over the same period in 2015.
After the Government approved the master plan for Moc Chau national tourism zone development to 2030, how do you assess the province’s tourism development prospects in the coming time? How will Son La make use of those advantages?
Moc Chau national tourism zone is planned on a total natural area of 206,150 ha in Moc Chau and Van Ho districts, designed to become a driving force of tourism development in Son La province and the northwest mountainous region where there are a variety of well-reputed and competitive unique tourism products based on beautiful natural scenery and cultural identity.
The master plan for Moc Chau national tourism zone development approved by the Prime Minister is not only an important legal basis for managing construction investment and creating opportunities for Son La province to awaken and liberate potential and attract maximum investment resources for tourism development. The plan has provided a basically regulatory framework for building Moc Chau into a major tourist destination of the country. Son La province has strived to promote socialisation and mobilisation of all investment resources for tourism development, maximise tourism potential and advantages of Moc Chau - Son La and economic sectors to develop tourism in particular and the economy in general.
The province focuses on centralised development of ecological tourism, leisure tourism and community cultural tourism; facilitate domestic and foreign investors and companies to study and explore investment cooperation opportunities and carry out projects in Moc Chau national tourism zone. In the coming time, the province will actively coordinate with central and local authorities to establish and approve details for investment management and investment attraction. The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will advise the provincial government to build and issue some investment policies and mechanisms for Moc Chau national tourism zone in the direction of offering the highest incentives in the current framework, and facilitate investors to exploit potential and advantages to enhance quality, efficiency and competitiveness. It will mobilise all resources for synchronous infrastructure system investment development and combine modern and traditional national cultural elements, organise tourism investment promotion conferences, develop tourism communication and advertisement programmes, and work out tourism human resources training for Moc Chau national tourism zone.
And, what are the biggest existing issues in Son La tourism development plan in the coming time?
First, the tourism sector of Son La province has gradually developed and asserted its brand name on the market.
Secondly, the development of urban areas, tourist attractions, resorts and amusement parks has a significant impact on landscapes, even changing them, thus posing challenges for tourism development of Son La province.
Thirdly, tourism human resources are limited in both quantity and quality of professionalism. while the tourism industry requires a professional workforce.
Residents are mainly minority (accounting for over 70 per cent of the population) and belong to different ethnic groups. In spite of cultural diversity, low literacy is a huge cultural and social obstacle to tourism development, especially service quality.
Fourthly, Son La is a mountainous province in the northwest where there is no airway or railway connections. Waterway and roadway are the primary traffic routes in the region, thus inhibiting investors from bringing their big projects to Son La province.