Gia Lai province in the North Central Highlands has a natural area of more than 1,551,098.63 ha and many majestic natural landscapes. In recent years, the province has boosted its tourism image through tourism fairs and mass media and, at the same time, hosted national cultural events, conferences and sports tournaments to draw domestic and foreign tourists.
Gia Lai province has increased investment funds to tap local potential advantages for tourism development. In the first nine months of 2019, tourist arrivals totaled 566,000, including 11,300 international visitors. Total tourism revenue reached VND261 billion, equal to 68% of the full-year plan.
Every year, localities open attention-grabbing cultural events such as Ngoc Hoi Dong Da Victory Celebration and Cau Hue Singing Festival in An Khe town, Yang Potao Apui Rain Ceremony in Phu Thien district, Boat Racing on Po Co River in Ia Grai district, and Muong Flower Festival in Chuprong district in 2019. At the same time, they maintain various forms of ecotourism, cultural tourism and historical tourism, connect tourist sites with economic and political projects such as Bien Ho Tea Hill, Ayun Ha Lake, Phu Cuong Waterfall, Hang Doi Waterfall (Kbang district), Kon Ka Kinh National Park, Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve, Dai Doan Ket Square, Ia Ly Hydropower Plant and Dong Xanh Park. Community-based tourism development has been the focus in Op village (Pleiku), Stor village (Kbang district), Vai Vieng village (Mang Yang district), K'Giang village and Kon Luong Khong village (Kbang district), and Ia Nueng village (Bien Ho - Pleiku). However, in addition to achieved results, they largely organize cultural and sports activities coupled with various tourism activities. Tourist attractions lack improvements, with some items downgraded. Infrastructure construction for tourism development is still slow. Localities are not active enough to prepare documents and procedures to launch investment projects. It is ineffective to invite tourism companies to open branches in the province, while Gia Lai province-based tourism companies do not have branches in major cities to motivate business opportunities and attract tourists. Travel operators are weak at connecting and building tourism products and establishing cooperation with external tourism firms.
These shortcomings stem from various reasons. First, the coordination of relevant bodies is inconsistent and unsupportive to investment attraction for tourism development, especially wooing large investors to leverage tourism development. Second, the construction and upgrade of operational tourist attractions is slow. Some projects take more time than planned and have not become appealing places of interest to tourists. This reality is attributed to weak capacity of tourism businesses that are managing and utilizing tourism resources.
Third, small cultural and tourist events are not well organized and have not caught the fancy of visitors. Fourth, limited local budget resulted in poor tourism investment. Most infrastructure projects, largely roads to tourist destinations, were slow-moving due to time-consuming legal documents relating to construction progress. The budget for tourism promotion was too little to boost the real effect. Fifth, the limited financial capacity of local tourism businesses, mainly small ones, resulted in weak competitiveness in major tourism markets.
Therefore, to develop tourism, the province put forth the following solutions to be implemented:
First, necessarily giving priority to tourism infrastructure investment, speeding up construction projects; facilitating the fulfilment of investment procedures for tourism infrastructure projects, selecting qualified contractors and investors to speed up project completion.
Second, increasing tourist arrivals by promoting information updates on tourism events, organizing professional tourism conferences, cultural and sporting events; necessarily attracting tourism investment projects, facilitating investors to speed up investment progress; and completing tourism development support policies.
Third, improving the quality and diversity of tourism products, developing tourism products in line with distinctive local potential strengths; improving the quality of distinctive local tourism products such as forest discovery and research (Mang Yang, Kbang), nature discovery, cultural - ecological experiences; ensuring rich tourism content to create an attractive destination for current tourist destinations such as Chu Dang Ya volcano, especially forming a community-based tourism model, increasing income for poor people, developing and scaling up effective and practical tourism models.
Fourth, enhancing the quality of tourism human resources by training and fostering human resources, especially on-site tour guides with knowledge and understanding of customs, practices and languages of ethnic minorities to serve tourists.
Fifthly, aligning tourism development with economic performance and sociocultural development; having mechanisms and policies to preserve cultural heritages, protect cultural environment, encourage responsible tourism for the common benefit of all stakeholders to ensure ecological and cultural development, conservation and restoration, developing green tourism, and adapting to climate change; raising awareness of authorities of all levels and people to lead a civilized and polite lifestyle and create a friendly environment in tourist destinations.
Source: Vietnam Business Forum