After more than three years of implementing Resolution 05-NQ/TU dated August 2, 2016 of the Provincial Party Committee on Soc Trang tourism development to 2020, with an eye to 2025, the face of Soc Trang tourism has changed dramatically. Vietnam Business Forum Magazine’s reporter has a conversation with Mr. Tran Minh Ly, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Soc Trang province, about these achievements.
What were local tourism strengths before Resolution 05 was enforced?
By grasping and informing officials, Party cadres and people of the importance and contribution of tourism to social and economic development in various forms, ensuring security and order, environmental sanitation at tourist attractions has been increasingly guaranteed.
Traditional tourist sites have been invested, upgraded and expanded, such as Mahatup Pagoda (or Doi Pagoda), SroLon Pagoda (or Chen Kieu Pagoda), Buu Son Pagoda (Dat Set Pagoda), Kh'leang Pagoda, Khmer Cultural Exhibition Hall. Particularly, Mahatup Pagoda and Buu Son Pagoda are two of four provincial tourism sites recognized as national historical and cultural relics. Some new spiritual tourism projects have also been invested and prepared for service, including Gieng Tien Cultural and Religious Area, Quan Am Dong Hai Pagoda (Vinh Chau). Notably, Soc Trang Cultural and Religious Site (Truc Lam Zen Monastery) was already completed and put into operation.
In addition to efforts to tap strong tourism advantages (ecotourism, countryside tourism and maritime tourism), in the past three years, Soc Trang has also built distinctive tourism products and services. Specifically, since 2016, the province has facilitated domestic and international tourism businesses to register their attendance to Ngo boat racing, the Moon Worshipping Ceremony and the Floating Lamp Ceremony; developed tram services to serve visitors at Mahatup Pagoda and Soc Trang City and rowing services for tourists at Nga Nam Floating Market.
Local tour programs and destination connections have also been introduced to travel agencies in other provinces. Local tour operators have also used these tours as a basis for linking with businesses across the country. At the same time, Soc Trang province has developed and selected 20 typical arts performances of Kinh, Khmer and Hoa (Chinese-originated) ethnic groups with duration of 5-120 minutes for customers if they request; and build souvenirs such as miniature Ngo boats, frieze paintings and keychains
Currently, Soc Trang has four province-level tourist sites and four standard tourist stops. The whole has 69 hotels with 1,394 rooms for tourists. After more than three years of implementing Resolution 05, the province’s tourism data showed interesting developments, from 1.42 million visitors in 2016 to 2.4 million visitors in 2019, or an increase of 70%. Tourism revenue rose from VND460,336 billion in 2016 to VND1,020 billion in 2019, representing an increase of 122%.
Having this success, how has the tourism sector carried out tourism marketing and promotion?
Recently, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has directed specialized departments and affiliated units to focus on tourism marketing, promotion and development. Specifically, the department carried out two thematic programs, "Soc Trang Tourism" and "Soc Trang Geography", periodically broadcasted on the Soc Trang Radio and Television Station; participated in promoting Soc Trang tourism at tourism festivals and tourist events in the Mekong Delta and other regions. The province published 1,500 books on Soc Trang legends, legacy, places of interest and tourist attractions (11 relics); 1,000 copies of “Historical relics and tourist attractions in Soc Trang” (17 relics); built 20 information panels, advertisements and directions to destinations to help tourists far and wide easily find the way to visit local tourist destinations.
Tourism development also needs to be promoted. The province signed tourism cooperation agreements and programs with localities with developed tourism industries such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria - Vung Tau and Quang Binh; participated in the West Mekong Delta tourism development cooperation cluster; and signed tourism development cooperation agreements between Ho Chi Minh City and 13 Mekong Delta provinces and cities.
In order to successfully carry out Resolution 05-NQ/TU, turn Soc Trang into a typical destination on the Mekong Delta tourism map and the whole country, what solutions will Soc Trang tourism sector focus on key solutions in the coming time?
The tourism sector will continue to effectively execute Resolution 08-NQ/TW dated January 16, 2017 of Politburo; Resolution 05-NQ/TU dated August 2, 2016 of the Provincial Party Committee; Action Program 06/CTr-UBND dated December 12, 2016 of the Provincial People's Committee on implementation of Resolution 05. The sector will target sustainable tourism development; effectively coordinate with relevant bodies in tourism development; and professionalize tourism development to make tourism an important economic sector of the province. The sector will focus on upgrading tourism and sightseeing attractions; build specific tourism products by promoting local potential and strengths; diversify tourism products and services; and effectively implement "Project on Soc Trang community tourism development in 2017-2020”.
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will advise the Provincial People's Committee to submit a draft resolution on tourism development in 2020-2025 to the Provincial People's Council; continue to call for investment projects approved by the Provincial People's Committee; attract businesses to invest in tourist yachts along Nam Song Hau and Soc Trang routes to Tran De and in Soc Trang City; invest in building and developing the Soc Trang Cultural and Sports Center; upgrade Ngo boat racing stands; invest in building and upgrading Soc Trang night market. At the same time, the department will promote tourism; effectively cooperate with local potential markets (e.g. Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, central Vietnam provinces, Mekong Delta provinces) to link tour route development. The department will also improve working quality of the Soc Trang Tourism Development Steering Committee and the Soc Trang Tourism Association; foster training of tourism human resources to meet development needs in the new context.
Thank you very much!
“Soc Trang defined that developing locally distinctive tourism products is a key step to develop tourism into an important economic sector in the spirit of Resolution 05. Particularly, the province has focused on developing special tourism products like spiritual tourism, festive culture, pagoda history, national and provincial relics, ecotourism, countryside tourism on islands along Hau river and in Cu Lao Dung district; mangrove eco-tourism in Tran De district and Vinh Chau town, and Nga Nam floating market cultural tourism.”
Source: Vietnam Business Forum