To effectively unlock the potential and advantages of tourism development and quickly turn tourism into a key economic sector, on August 2, 2016, the Provincial Party Committee of Soc Trang province promulgated Resolution 05-NQ/TU on tourism development to 2020, with an eye to 2025. To date, after more than a year of executing Resolution 05, the look of Soc Trang tourism has been lifted in both quality and quantity. To learn more about this success, Vietnam Business Forum Magazine has an interview with Mr Tran Minh Ly, Director of the Soc Trang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Cong Luan reports.
Could you please tell more about positive changes of Soc Trang province’s tourism industry?
After more than a year of implementing Resolution 05, tourism data showed significant progress, with tourist arrivals rising by 8.1 per cent and tourism revenue jumping 21 per cent, above the targets set in the Resolution. Specifically, visitor arrivals totalled 1,234,423 (including 37,450 foreigners), tourists using local accommodations reached 295,980 and tourism revenue topped VND557.092 billion.
The tourist accommodation system has developed, the tourism quality has increasingly improved, and the service has increasingly been professionalised to bring satisfaction to visitors. Currently, Soc Trang has more than 100 tourist accommodation facilities, consisting of 69 ranked facilities with more than 1,400 rooms. More and more tour operators are present in the province.
Destinations are invested and upgraded for better quality. Typical tourism infrastructure included Ho Chi Minh Temple, roads to wartime military bases in My Phuoc Melaleuca Forest, and Tran De - Con Dao express wharf. New destinations are also built, including Soc Trang Buddhist Spiritual Cultural Philanthropic Centre, Somrong Pagoda, and Gia Hoa I Stork Sanctuary Tourism Site. Besides, many tourism projects are underway, such as Vinh Chau wind power plant in Vinh Chau Town, Ho Be Lake Ecological Tourism Site, and Gieng Tien Cultural Religious Area.
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism surveyed and introduced eight tour routes, developed ethnically unique arts products for tourists, promoted the role of the My Phuoc Island community tourism complex in Ke Sach district to draw tourists to join the community tourism model.
At present, the province has four certified tourist sites: Mahatup Pagoda (Doi Pagoda), Buu Son Pagoda (Dat Set Pagoda), Fresh Water Cultural and Exhibition Centre, and Tan Huu Vien Garden. Other cultural and historical relics have also been upgraded to uphold traditional festivals of Kinh, Khmer and Hoa ethnic groups to serve tourists.
To realise the goal of receiving 1.7 million tourists in 2020 as stated in Resolution 05, what key solutions will the tourism sector of Soc Trang province focus on?
According to the Resolution 05 of the Provincial Party Committee and the Action Plan 06 dated December 11, 2016 of the Provincial People’s Committee on implementation of Resolution 05, we will focus investment on tourism infrastructure development and tourism product development in key tourist sites; and promote and unlock local tourism potential and strengths like spiritual tourism, festive culture and ecotourism, especially unique festivals of Kinh, Khmer and Hoa ethnic groups. We will strengthen personnel training and upgrading; utilise capital sources for tourism development investment; and intensify State tourism management and promotion.
Human resources training is key to tourism development. Could you please tell us the province’s policy on this?
Soc Trang province now has 675 tourism workers (including casual ones), of which 105 are university graduates, 120 are college graduates, 110 are high school graduates, and the rest are graduates of short-term training courses. Human resources training and retraining are focused to improve tourism quality to better meet demand.
According to Resolution 05 of the Provincial Party Committee and Action Plan 06 of the Provincial People’s Committee, in the coming time, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will coordinate with tourism universities and colleges in Can Tho City and Ho Chi Minh City to organise training courses on State tourism management and tour guide training.
The department will invest in training, fostering and raising professional qualifications for civil servants, officials, managers and workers at tourist resorts and tourist attractions; and strive to organise at least 1 - 2 training courses on tourism professions and guides each year till 2025. At the same time, it will also have guide and collaborator recruitment policies aimed to employ tourism graduates.
Furthermore, the department advocates establishing the Soc Trang Tour Guide Society under the Soc Trang Tourism Association to gather interpreters and guides working in the province.
According to many experts, the tourism sector of Soc Trang province needs to make breakthroughs and tourism infrastructure investments to become a centre of ground and sea tourist transit for the Mekong Delta region to fly high. What do you think about this issue?
To become a tourism hub for sea and land travellers in the whole Mekong Delta, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to coordinate with concerned departments, agencies and local governments to carry out tasks stated in Action Plan 06 of the Provincial People’s Committee.
Since the launch of Tran De - Soc Trang Wharf operated by Superdong Kien Giang Fast Ferry Joint Stock Company in July 2017, we defined that this is one of drives to develop Soc Trang tourism in the coming time and link tourism sites inside and outside the province with Tran De - Con Dao (Ba Ria - Vung Tau province) tour route. Therefore, the Provincial People’s Committee instructed relevant departments and agencies to coordinate with and connect with Con Dao to call more investment capital for building trade centres and developing tourism products (restaurants, hotels, entertainment services, etc.); have infrastructure development investment plans for Tran De Industrial Park; enhance the quality of Tran De fishing port for tourism purposes; plan 4 - 5 locations for resorts in Mo O ecological tourism complex to facilitate investment attraction; and gradually raise tourism service quality at My Phuoc Islet and establish new services on Nam Song Hau Road to connect and serve tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta provinces to Con Dao Island. Particularly, invested by the province, the 20.4-km Mac Dinh Chi - Tran De coastal road - which runs across Tran De and Long Phu districts, Soc Trang province) - will smooth traffic connectivity between Tran De and major economic centres of the province, surrounding districts and facilitate domestic and foreign companies to invest in industrial, trade and tourism sectors of the province.
In addition, Soc Trang will continue to call for investment projects approved by the Provincial People’s Committee such as Ho Be Lake Ecological Tourist Site (Vinh Chau town), Mo O Ecological Tourism Site (Tran De district), mangrove forest ecological tourism area (Cu Lao Dung district), Vinh Chau ecological - commercial service tourist site (Vinh Chau town), and stork sanctuary tourist site (My Xuyen district). The province will utilise capital resources to invest in tourism infrastructure; build traffic works, cultural and sports institutions; renovate historical relics, handicraft villages and tourism development projects. This is an important solution for Soc Trang tourism to become a land and sea tourist transport centre of the Mekong Delta region.
Thank you very much!