With ongoing efforts to improve the quality of traditional tourism products and develop more attractive tourist products and services such as hi-tech agricultural tourism and adventure tourism, the tourism sector of Lam Dong province has spared no effort to change for the better and make Lam Dong province a charming destination on discovery itineraries of tourists. For an in-depth look on the province's tourism, Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Ms Nguyen Thi Nguyen, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Lam Dong province. Hoang Lam and Truong Thanh report.
Could you please tell us the remarkable tourism results of Lam Dong in 2016?
In 2016, the tourism sector of Lam Dong province continued to maintain a fairly high growth rate. The province welcomed 5.4 million visitors (up 44 per cent from 2015), with 3.6 million visitors staying at hotels. Social revenue and average stay days increased. Also in the year, Da Lat-Lam Dong was voted by many tourism magazines, televisions and forums. For example, The New York Times listed Da Lat City 30th in 52 most desirable destinations in 2016 (January 2016); the US-based television channel CNN voted Da Lat as one of nine great but underrated attractions in Asia (May 2016); and Da Lat and Sa Pa were voted as Top 10 attractive tourism destinations in Asia by the American travel website TripAdvisor (December 2016).
These results came from intensified tourism promotions via various information channels; increased tourism development cooperation among localities in the country; and active welcome of domestic and international travel trips (famtrip and presstrip) to Da Lat-Lam Dong.
The transport infrastructure system was invested, upgraded and completed to connect Lam Dong with other localities. Many promotional activities were deployed by the province to attract a number of domestic and international flights to Lam Dong via Lien Khuong Airport. In particular, in December 2016, two international flights carried tourists to Lien Khuong Airport from Singapore and Wuhan (China).
Tourist sites and travel businesses actively invested, improved the quality and diversified tourism products and services, especially those bearing Da Lat trademark. In addition to speeding up the development of traditional tourism products like ecotourism, honeymoon tours, sightseeing tours and MICE tourism, the tourism sector also embarked on developing and investing in new tourism products and services such as hi-tech agricultural tourism with tea, vegetable and flower products; adventure travel like waterfall rappelling, climbing cliffs and trekking; and botanical study tours in Bidoup Nui Ba National Park and Langbiang Biosphere Reserve.
Moreover, cultural, artistic and sporting activities and events were launched regularly to create good communication effects on the internet to bring the image of Da Lat-Lam Dong tourism closer to visitors in the country and in the world.
While tourism integration and cooperation is an indispensable way for each locality to effectively unlock all potential and advantages to make tourism develop and become a spearhead economic sector and an important contributor to the local budget. So, how about the tourism sector of Lam Dong province?
Seeing the importance of tourism connectivity to local tourism development, the leaders of Lam Dong province have paid attention to promoting tourism development cooperation to tap tourism potential and advantages; creating favourable conditions for tourism enterprises to combine the construction of unique tourist products; and forming multiple interregional tourism programmes to meet “one trip to many destinations” needs of tourists, thereby stimulating tourism demand, facilitating market expansion and promoting tourist arrival growth.
Initially, tourism development cooperation programmes between Lam Dong and other localities have brought about positive results from State management to identifying key markets, building specific products and linking tours, routes and sites. Combining tourism promotion cooperation and formulating tourism product and personnel management and development policies have contributed to affirming tourism brands, especially “Saigon Market-Da Lat Flower-Mui Ne Beach” (Lam Dong-Binh Thuan-Ho Chi Minh City), “Forest and Sea Tourism” (Lam Dong-Khanh Hoa), and “Flower and Heritage Tourism” (Lam Dong-Quang Nam-Da Nang-Thua Thien Hue). Hence, the province established many effective and attractive tours and routes such as tourism festivals and events; ecological research tours; sea-mountain adventure tours; and tours to places of interest, historical and cultural relics and traditional handicraft villages.
In the future, Lam Dong will continue to develop tourism development cooperation with Nghe An, Hanoi and Central Highlands provinces to further expand and exploit the domestic market from the northern markets as well as Central Highlands provinces.
It is known that opening more international and domestic flights to Lien Khuong Airport is now a priority for Lam Dong province. What opportunities and challenges will the policy of “opening the sky” bring to the Lam Dong tourism industry?
Regarding opportunities, “opening the sky” will facilitate tourist travelling, enable tourism promotion and development, attract more tourists to Da Lat-Lam Dong, and increase tourism service revenues. At the same time, it helps bring the tourism image of Da Lat-Lam Dong closer to international tourists and tap potential markets from many countries in the world.
However, coming with opportunities is numerous challenges. When the number of international visitors increases, Lam Dong must reform administrative procedures and shorten the time required for handling entry and exit procedures at the airport. At the same time, it is necessary for the province to strengthen security, safety and social order. Furthermore, to meet increasing requirements from tourists, Lam Dong tourism companies have to invest in upgrading technical facilities and training human resources (especially foreign language skills) to improve service quality on the one hand and diversifying and developing tourism products and services for tourists from different markets, particularly high-class products and services on the other.
In 2017, the Lam Dong tourism industry strives to attract 5.85 million visitors, including 390,000 foreigners, and have 3.9 million visitors stay at hotels with an individual average of 2.5 days. What solutions has the tourism sector launched to achieve these targets?
In order to achieve the above-mentioned targets, in 2017, the Lam Dong tourism sector will focus on improving State tourism management by effectively implementing Resolution 08-NQ/TW of the Politburo, Resolution 92/NQ-CP of the Government, Resolution 35/NQ-CP of the Government, Resolution 07-NQ/TU of the Provincial Party Committee, the pilot scheme on construction of agricultural tourism models in Lam Dong province, and the scheme on information technology application to tourist accommodation facility management. The sector will continue to perfect transport infrastructure systems from key domestic and foreign destinations to Da Lat-Lam Dong, and promote the opening of more domestic and international flights to Da Lat-Lam Dong.
In addition, we will pay attention to raising travel personnel quality; renovate tourism communication, advertisement and promotion towards socialisation; and strengthen coordination among functional agencies in monitoring and inspecting tourist service business.
Particularly, tourism services companies will actively invest in upgrading facilities and equipment to meet tourists’ diverse demands for products and services, launch promotion and stimulus programmes to lure customers; connect tours to create attractive, unique programmes for tourists; actively participate in and respond to tourism programmes and events such as the 7th Da Lat Flower Festival and Lam Dong Tea Culture Week in 2017.