Driving Tourism to be Important Economic Sector

9:27:09 AM | 11/3/2022

Possessing diverse and rich tourism resources, Long An province holds an important position in Vietnam's tourism development strategy, especially in the tourism development strategy of the Southern key economic region and Mekong Delta region. Promoting this advantage, in recent years, Long An's tourism industry has made strong strides with an average growth rate of over 20% per year. The reporter had an interview with Mr. Nguyen Anh Dung, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to understand more clearly the changes of the tourism industry in Long An province. Cong Luan reports.

Can you share about the achievements in the province’s tourism?

In the 2016-2020 period, tourist attractions in Long An province became very popular. Thanks to this, the province's tourism revenue increased significantly. In 2016, the total revenue from tourism activities only reached VND410 billion, the number of visitors reached 910,000 arrivals; in 2019, the revenue had increased to more than VND782 billion, the number of visitors reached 1,835,000. During the period 2020 - 2021, due to the serious influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of tourist arrivals and tourism revenue in the province decreased.

With a new direction, Long An tourism has made a strong development with an average growth rate of over 20% per year, rising to become a tourist destination of the Southwest region. This success is a worthy "sweet fruit" for the efforts of innovation, constantly improving the quality - tourism services, effectively meeting all the needs of visitors. Tourism workers are also gradually trained professionally; the system of accommodation and food establishments is increasingly complete; many hotels and restaurants have been upgraded or newly built with good furniture; tourist attractions in the province are increasingly attracting tourists. On the basis of the master plan, the eco-tourism sites (Lang Sen Wetland Reserve, Dong Thap Muoi Center for Research, Conservation and Development of Medicinal Materials, Tan Lap Floating Village eco-tourism site...) have been invested to create new tourist attractions, which are the focal points for tours. In addition, there are trillions of VND of private capital invested in tourism such as the Happyland entertainment complex.

Tourism promotion in recent years has focused on introducing and promoting local tourism images and projects calling for investment in the media; participating in festivals, tourism fairs, improving service quality through professional training, attending conferences, seminars, tour surveys and participating in tourism events to promote a business image. It has implemented a cooperation program with tourism in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Thap, and Tien Giang to exchange experiences in tourism activities, connecting tours to other provinces and cities, and enriching tourist service destinations. The state management of tourism has also achieved important results, creating conditions for organizations and individuals to invest in tourism development and put it into orderly operation. The above results are the turning point that creates the premise for a new development phase of Long An tourism.

Since the policy of calling for investment socialization, Long An has so far attracted investors interested in investing, embellishing tourist zones and spots and exploiting new tourism activities attracting domestic and foreign tourists. Many new tourism areas have been built into the network of existing tourist sites in the province in order to diversify the structure of local tourism products.

The situation of the COVID-19 pandemic is still complicated. How is the issue of building safe and attractive destinations prioritized by the tourism industry in order to attract more and more tourists to Long An on the basis of ensuring safety for tourists and local people?

Thanks to the attention of the Party and State, Long An province has been interested in investing, embellishing tourist sites/spots and exploiting new tourism activities. These efforts not only help the smokeless industry become more prosperous, attracting a large number of domestic and foreign tourists, but also contribute to the implementation of the local socio-economic development strategic goals, bringing Long An tourism step by step to integrate with the general tourism development trend of the region and tourism of the whole country.

In the list of the most impressive destinations of Long An tourism, it is impossible not to mention: Non-public multi-purpose cultural area of Tan Lap Floating Village (recognized as a provincial tourist site by the Provincial People's Committee in Decision 656/QD-UBND); Lang Sen non-public multi-purpose cultural area; Endless Field tourist site; Khang Thong entertainment complex (Happyland); Phuoc Loc Tho cultural and sports tourist site; Chavi educational eco-tourism site; My Quynh Zoo; and West Lakes Golf and Villas Long An.

In addition, in the province, there are many historical and cultural relic sites attracting tourists’ interest (Rach Cat Fort tourist spot; Lam Vien Thanh Nien; Provincial Revolution historical relic site; Vam Nhut Tao historical relic site; The historical site of the base of the Party Committee and the Southern Administrative and Resistance Committee; the historical relic site of ​​Duc Hoa crossroads; famous traditional craft villages like Binh An drum village, Long Cang mat-weaving village; and historical and cultural festivals, all contributing to the development of tourism.

Recently, tourist areas/spots have been prioritized to invest, embellish, and basically meet the needs of tourists. However, from 2020 to now, the complicated and prolonged pandemic situation has caused heavy damage to the province's economy, including tourism.

As the situation of the pandemic is still complicated, in order to attract tourists to Long An on the basis of ensuring the safety of tourists and people, to help Long An tourism recover soon and return to stable business after the pandemic is controlled, the issue of building safe and attractive destinations has always been prioritized by the Long An Tourism industry. On the basis of the set of criteria to evaluate safety, flexibility, and effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic for tourism business activities in Long An province under Decision 11264/QD-UBND issued by the Provincial People's Committee, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has implemented a document guiding the measures of "Safe adaptation, flexibility, effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic" in cultural, sports and tourism activities in Long An province at Instruction 2656/HD-SVHTTDL dated November 12, 2021; issuing Official Letter 2578/SVHTTDL-QLDL dated November 15, 2021 to tourism businesses in the province on self-scoring for safety in pandemic prevention; implementing Document 2663/SVHTTDL-QLDL dated November 23, 2021 on temporarily guiding the handling process when having F0 at tourism businesses. The implementation of the above documents has helped tourism organizations and individuals become more proactive in disease control, restarting business activities, contributing to the development of tourism in the province.

In order to attract tourists to Long An, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has coordinated with related units to organize the Conference of "Tourism development linkage between Long An province and Ho Chi Minh City in conditions of safe adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic" (on October 31st, 2021) in order to restore tourism activities in Long An province in the conditions of safe, flexible adaptation and effective pandemic control. In addition, the Department has cooperated with businesses to develop programs of activities with rich contents, especially focusing on promotions and discounts in order to attract tourists; developing separate and typical product packages of each tourist area/spot in order to stimulate domestic market demand; developing programs and packages of "safe" tourism products to offer to tourists, focusing on rural tourism products, experiences, sightseeing and conferences. The tourism programs aim to ensure products and services meeting the "Temporary set of criteria for assessing the level of safety in pandemic prevention and control for tourism activities" issued by the Provincial People's Committee. It has focused on serving fully vaccinated guests, encouraging tourists to take package tours built and offered for sale by travel agencies.

Can you share more about the strategic goals of Long An tourism in the near future?

When the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, with its diverse and rich potentials, Long An has the conditions to develop a mixed economy with many components, in which together with investment in construction of tourist areas, diversifying tourism products and enhancing service quality, the province will attract more domestic and foreign tourists, thereby improving the development situation and increasing the industry's revenue, making tourism an economic sector having development prospects, promising to play an important role in the process of economic restructuring and actively contributing to the socio-economic development of the province.

However, in order to limit the negative impacts on the environment, landscape, culture and society, the Tourism industry must have a direction of sustainable development in terms of economy, environment and society, developing tourism in association with communities, creating jobs, eradicating hunger and reducing poverty, ensuring the preservation and embellishment of the ecological environment, historical relics, cultural identities and resources for future generations.

On that basis, the strategic goal of Long An is to develop tourism commensurate with the available advantages, making tourism an important economic sector in the process of economic restructuring of the province and based on the perspective of developing eco-tourism, environmental landscape, cultural-historical tourism; on the basis of focusing on investing in exploiting local potentials and creating a close link between Long An tourism and the tourism of neighboring provinces, gradually bringing Long An tourism to soon integrate and develop with domestic and foreign tourism. By 2030, tourism will become a key economic sector of Long An, creating many new jobs and promoting the development of other fields, and Long An will be the leading satellite tourism destination of Ho Chi Minh City.

By Vietnam Business Forum