Son La tourism industry is actively implementing the Resolution of the 15th Son La Provincial Party Congress for the 2020-2025 term on strengthening the synchronous implementation of solutions to develop the tourism industry; ensuring professionalism, modernity and sustainable development and striving to drive the local tourism to truly become a spearhead economic sector by 2030. Vietnam Business Forum had an interview with Mr. Tran Xuan Viet, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Son La province in this regard. Tran Trang reports.
Can you tell us about how Son La has attracted not only many tourists but also many tourism development investors in recent years?
Son La has diverse tourism resources and has its own imprint: The mountainous terrain is interspersed with valleys and there are many hydroelectric lakes in the area, so the climate is divided into many specific sub-regions. The climate is cool with temperature ranging from 18-21 degrees, very suitable for tourism development in the highlands of Moc Chau, Ta Xua - Bac Yen, Ngoc Chien - Muong La. The limestone mountains create an interesting cave system such as Bat Cave, Five caves of On village (Moc Chau), Nha Nhung cave, Chi Day cave (Yen Chau). The system of mountains, rivers and streams also creates many beautiful landscapes such as Dai Yem Waterfall (Moc Chau), Tat Nang Waterfall (Van Ho), Dinosaur spine, Pu Nhi Farm (Bac Yen), Pha Luong peak (Moc Chau) especially the vast Da River lake bed with hundreds of large and small islands.
Son La also has 12 ethnic groups living together and preserving cultural values imbued with the identity of the Northwest. There are thousands of ancient Thai and ancient Dao books containing the epics and history of Muong village construction. Tourists are also impressed by Thai Xoe dances, Dao bell dance, Khen dance, Hmong ethnic umbrella dance and many folk songs of Khap Thai, Dang Muong and Mong folk songs. These are special festivals such as Ban Flower Festival, Festivals of Het Cha, Long Tong, Nao Song, etc. which are associated with many folk games such as: To ma le game, stilts, “Con” ball throwing, dragon hatching eggs. Son La is also famous for traditional crafts such as Pieu scarf of the Thai ethnic group, brocade cloth, cotton and rice cushions, bamboo and rattan objects with unique patterns. And there are also many attractive dishes (Can wine, Roe deer wine, pa pinh top -fish grilled), Mo chicken, smoked meat, Lam rice, etc. Currently, many villages still retain the values of daily life and traditional culture, which is the basis for developing ecology tourism, such as Na Bai village, Phu Mau 1 and Phu Mau 2 village (Van Ho); Hua Tat village (Van Ho); Hai village, Ca village and Bo village (Son La city); Ka village and Duc village (Quynh Nhai).
Son La currently has 88 historical-cultural relics and scenic spots ranked at national and provincial levels such as Que Lam stele - Temple of King Le Thai Tong (Son La City); Vietnam-Laos revolutionary historical site (Yen Chau); Moc Ly Fort (Moc Chau district); Ky Dai Thuan Chau; Na San fortress... In particular, the national relic Son La Prison is a place that attracts many tourists, as well as a traditional educational point for the revolutionary struggle for the defense of the Fatherland.
Son La has Moc Chau National Tourist Area, which is a national-level tourist area with ecological and cultural nature. In spring, the plateau is bustling with Spring Flower festivals, Het Cha festival, Praying for Rain Festival, Hot Air Balloons festival. In summer, the land is covered in the green tea hills and red color of the plum season. It is also the time for the Highland Tea Festival and the Fruit Picking Festival. In autumn, Moc Chau is engrossed in the Ethnic Culture Festival, with special cultural and artistic activities, especially the "Miss Dairy Contest" in Moc Chau.
Early identifying tourism as a spearhead economic sector, the province has been promoting innovation in the state management of tourism, especially the formulation of strategies, planning, and issuance of management policies, regulations, plans, schemes, etc. At the same time, the province also focuses on investment in traffic infrastructure, information technology and tourism infrastructure. Many new products and types of tourism have been put into operation with positive results. Focus and priority are given to tourism products built on environmentally friendly factors with the participation of the local community, especially giving priority to developing the strengths of cultural tourism associated with the environment.
In the face of complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the first nine months of 2021, Son La only welcomed 730,000 visitors, generating revenue of VND620 billion, equal to 38% of the plan.
To tap the potential and safely and flexibly adapt to the state of "economic development and COVID-19 pandemic prevention", what efforts has the tourism industry made?
In order to minimize the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the Department has advised the Provincial People's Committee to deploy many solutions and activities to prevent, control, control and adapt safely to the epidemic, with the goal of building a safe image of Son La tourism.
Specifically, the Department advised the Provincial People's Committee to issue temporary guidance on "safe adaptation and effective control of COVID-19” in the field of culture, sports and tourism in Son La province. At the same time, when the Provincial People's Committee allowed the resumption of some types of production and business, the Department regularly propagated and inspected accommodation establishments, restaurants, wedding parties, and tourist areas that are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50% capacity and implement measures to prevent and control the epidemic.
The Department also coordinates with local departments, agencies and sectors to advise the Provincial People's Committee to develop mechanisms and policies, such as Project on completing criteria for Moc Chau national tourist area to be recognized by 2025; Project on development of Son La hydropower reservoir area with a vision to become a national tourist area; The project to develop the Quynh Nhai hydropower reservoir area into a provincial tourist area; Planning the subdivision of Pha Din - Thuan Chau pass tourist area. The province also coordinates and supports investors to accelerate the implementation of projects such as Moc Chau Milk Paradise, Tourist Area ecotourism, Dai Yem waterfall resort, Phoenix Moc Chau luxury resort and entertainment area.
In addition, the Department has always been interested in tourism promotion activities such as: continuing to develop an effective tourism association program between Ho Chi Minh City and 8 expanded Northwest provinces; implementing the affiliated program with Hanoi city; organizing training courses on tourism professional skills; building and maintaining folk art teams in districts: Quynh Nhai, Van Ho, Bac Yen, Moc Chau and Son La city; grading and announcing the prize for the contest "Creating the logo and slogan for Son La tourism".
Hopefully, with the effort to invest in new items and carefully prepare for the post-pandemic recovery scenario, Son La tourism will soon overcome difficulties, continue to diversify tourism products and deliver attractive and quality experiences.
It is known that the Son La tourism industry is consulting on the implementation of the Project of orientation for the development of the Son La hydropower reservoir into a National Tourist Area in the period of 2021 - 2030. Can you share more about the project?
Son La hydropower plant has a reservoir area of nearly 225 square kilometers, with a capacity of 9.26 billion m3. In addition to storing lake water for power generation for the plant, Son La hydropower reservoir also plays a very important role in creating a new ecological and landscape area associated with the lives of ethnic minorities the upstream of the Da River, and at the same time opening up new potential for socio-economic development and tourism in the Northwest "sea and lake" region.
In order to turn the potential into reality, in 2021, Son La tourism industry has coordinated with the World Investment Fund Joint Stock Company on an investment project to develop the Son La hydroelectric lake bed tourist area to set up a project including: the entire water surface of Son La hydropower reservoir in Quynh Nhai district, 10,520ha wide and the ground area surrounding the lake bed, including islands and peninsulas located on the lake bed from Pa Ma Pha Khinh commune to Muong Chien commune. In which, the proposed investment area is about 3,000 hectares of water surface and about 500 hectares of land.
On the basis of the survey results, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has coordinated with other departments, branches, localities and businesses to develop a project to develop the Son La hydropower reservoir with a vision to become a national tourist area; The project of developing the Quynh Nhai hydropower reservoir area into a provincial tourist area. Currently, the above projects are in the completion stage to submit to the competent authorities for consideration and decision in 2022. We believe that the projects will soon be approved and implemented; thereby building and positioning a tourism brand in the lake bed area, creating a premise for promoting the socio-economic and environmental promotion of the Son La reservoir area for comprehensive development.
Thank you very much!