In 2020, despite facing heavy impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic, the tourism industry of Phu Yen province still managed to deal with difficulties and effectively tap the domestic market to stabilize the development of hospitality, become a spearhead economic sector and make a great contribution to the local economy. Vietnam Business Forum’s reporter has an interview with Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Thai, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Phu Yen province. Cong Luan reports.
How did the COVID-19 epidemic affect Vietnamese tourism in general and Phu Yen tourism in particular? Could you please briefly introduce the province’s tourism achievements?
Due to COVID-19 impacts, the Phu Yen tourism industry revised its target of 2 million visitors to 1 million visitors in 2020. To achieve this goal, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism coordinated with relevant agencies to guide tourism units and businesses to carry out epidemic prevention measures recommended by the Ministry of Health and relevant agencies to ensure safety for tourists at tourist sites, destinations and accommodations. In the end, tourist arrivals to Phu Yen decreased significantly to 884,300 in 2020, equal to 44.2% of the plan and down 51.6% from 2019, including 7,385 international visitors, equal to 36.5% of the plan and down 83.6% year on year. Total tourism revenue reached VND678.07 billion, equal to 30.2% of the plan and down 65% year on year. In 2021, the tourism industry strived to attract about 2 million visitors, including 20,200 international travelers.
The appeal of marine tourism, along with a safe social environment, and gentle, friendly and hospitable people, have made Phu Yen very attractive to more and more tourists. Would you be kind enough to demonstrate this success with concrete metrics?
Endowed by nature, Phu Yen possesses numerous potential and advantages for tourism development, especially marine tourism. With a 189 km coastline, visitors will be delighted to discover the charm of the coastal road, the wild beauty of sand dunes, bays, lagoons, capes, cliffs and beaches. The landscape of meandering and winding coastal mountains and cliffs appeals tourists to Phu Yen. Besides, the province has other strengths constituted by pristine nature and untapped natural potential. Phu Yen people are gentle, friendly and hospitable.
In fact, tourist arrivals to Phu Yen increased in recent years. The number rose from 530,000 (40,000 international visitors) in 2011 to 1.83 million in 2019 (45,050 international visitors). In 2020, in spite of being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Phu Yen still welcomed 884,300 visitors, including 7,385 foreigners. Boosted by increasing tourist arrivals, large domestic and foreign corporations are investing in many high-end hotel, trade, service, tourist, resort and entertainment projects in Phu Yen, particularly along the coast, to better meet tourists’ needs.
One of the top goals of Phu Yen tourism is increasing international travelers. What feasible solutions has the province adopted to achieve this goal?
To draw international tourists to Phu Yen, in addition to cooperation to create many charming and practical tourism products and destinations for international tourists, the province will enhance its leadership, direction, administration and coordination of competent authorities, mass organizations, businesses and residents to catch the interest of international travelers. The province will mobilize many investment resources for synchronous essential infrastructure development for tourism, especially high-class coastal services and distinctive local products to fascinate foreign visitors. Phu Yen will boost market research and development and launch tourism promotion and branding activities in key tourist markets.
Furthermore, the province will focus on developing high-quality tourism human resources, equipped with good skills in professional expertise and foreign language capabilities; raise social awareness and responsibility in tourism development, especially in aspects relating to hygiene, landscape and environment. At the same time, it will take advantage of central support to open international flights to Tuy Hoa Airport and boost cooperation to bring international tourists to Phu Yen.
To create a driving force for Phu Yen to develop tourism into a key economic sector, how has the province focused on synchronous upgrading and development of tourism infrastructure?
Knowing that infrastructure must be built before services, the province will focus on infrastructure investment for socioeconomic development and tourism development: Coordinating with the Ministry of Transport and central authorities to invest and operate Deo Ca Tunnel, Cu Mong Tunnel, Da Rang Bridge and Song Chua Bridge to establish smooth traffic connectivity between Phu Yen and other provinces and cities to facilitate trade in goods, investment cooperation and socioeconomic development, enabling the development of major ongoing tourism projects in the province. The province will upgrade the passenger terminal and install equipment at Tuy Hoa Airport to support the landing and takeoff of international flights; construct many traffic routes and speed up the progress of ongoing projects such as Phuoc Tan - Bai Nga Road, the road from Hoa Hiep 1 Industrial Park to Da Nong Bridge (Phase 2); Song Cau - Dong Xuan storm shelter route (Phase 2) - Provincial Road 644; the intersection hub at Nam Tuy Hoa Urban Area - Nguyen Van Linh Road and the intersection point at Hung Vuong Road - National Highway 1.
Phu Yen will upgrade Tuy Hoa Railway Station, increase tickets and extend the stopover time at railway stations; build Xuan Son Nam Station; propose to the Ministry of Transport and the Vietnam Railway Corporation the expansion of Chi Thanh Railway Station; and call investors to build vehicle stops and rest stops on national highways to provide services for people and vehicles in traffic.
As a result, tourism facilities and equipment in the province have been improved markedly. The number of accommodations, tourist services and products is increasing to meet the rising demand of tourists. By the end of 2020, Phu Yen had 380 tourist accommodations, an increase of 292.3% over 2015; built some high-class tourist resorts and coastal resorts to make breakthrough development of marine resorts, and restored and upgraded many historical and cultural relics and landscapes.
In the new term, 2020 - 2025, what major directions has Phu Yen province set for the tourism industry?
To further invest for tourism development to assert its role as a key economic sector and make greater contributions to the province's economy and achieve tourism growth of around 14% a year, Phu Yen province will focus on developing marine tourism, ecological tourism, cultural tourism and community tourism; and boost tourism branding. The province will draw investment capital to build some typical national and regional tourist resorts like Xuan Dai Bay, Da Dia Cliff and Vung Ro Bay. Xuan Dai Bay will be built into a national tourist area according to the approved planning. Phu Yen will establish cooperation in tourism development with other provinces and cities in the country, especially localities in the South Central Coast and Central Highlands; mobilize investment resources to develop tourism infrastructure and essential infrastructure in monuments and landscapes; and encourage research and development of locally distinctive souvenirs for tourists. It will coordinate, facilitate and speed up major tourism projects for earlier operation like tourism projects in Xuan Dai Bay, O Loan Lagoon, Da Dia Cliff, Tu Nham Beach Resort, Hon Nua Island Resort, Bai Nom Resort, Bien Ho Resort, NewCity Viet Resort Complex and coastal tourism projects in the south of Tuy Hoa City. Phu Yen province will strive to attract over 4 million visitors to the province by 2025, including more than 50,000 international visitors.
Source: Vietnam Business Forum