In 30 years since provincial reestablishment, Soc Trang tourism has made robust progress with a lot of impressive achievements to make a significant leap from the first days. Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr. Tran Minh Ly, said that this will be an important foundation for Soc Trang to mobilize resources for developing tourism into a spearhead economic sector by 2030. Cong Luan reports.
|Mr. Tran Minh Ly|
Could you please tell us more details about transformational changes of Soc Trang tourism in the past 30 years?
In the past, Soc Trang was strong in spiritual tourism. At present, the province has developed a variety of tourism forms such as eco-tourism, community tourism, maritime tourism and sightseeing at wind farms in Vinh Chau Town. In particular, it has a high-speed train route from Tran De to Con Dao that attracts a large number of tourists.
Tourism infrastructure has developed synchronously in line with social development in the past 30 years. Soc Trang province allocated its public budget to upgrade tourism infrastructure, repair roads to tourist attractions and support site clearance. It invested VND562.68 billion to upgrade traffic routes to Uncle Ho's Temple, Soc Trang Culture and Belief Area (Truc Lam Zen Monastery), wartime base of Soc Trang Party Committee and Gieng Tien Cultural and Belief Area. The province always pays attention to restoring and upgrading historical sites and attractions, especially Luong Dinh Cua Monument in commemoration of agronomist doctor Luong Dinh Cua - an outstanding figure of Soc Trang. The province spent VND3.88 billion to support upgrading tourist attractions. It has also annually funded cultural, sporting and tourism events. It allocated VND1,925 billion to upgrade many important traffic routes for tourism development and diversify waterway traffic with 634 routes stretching 3,282 km long.
Tourism socialization has produced many positive results. More than 10 socialization projects have been launched with a total budget of over VND863 billion, including four projects put into service and the rest being underway. The province included 13 tourism development investment projects in 2017-2020 and approved four tourism development projects with a total investment value of VND164 billion. Many projects to build restaurants, high-class hotels, trade centers, supermarkets, national agricultural wholesale markets and convenience stores in districts, towns and cities are calling for investment totalling VND520 billion.
Local tourism service companies continued to grow in number and quality. The province currently has one 3-star hotel, 11 2-star hotels, 21 1-star hotels and five standard tourist service providers. Tourism promotion has achieved many encouraging results. Tourism cooperation is increasingly effective. The province signed tourism development cooperation agreements with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ba Ria - Vung Tau; joined joint tourism development cooperation deals with the west of the Mekong Delta; and at the same time, inked a tourism development cooperation agreement between Ho Chi Minh City and 13 provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta.
The most optimistic change of Soc Trang tourism in the past 30 years is tourism thinking. Previously, people and businesses did not want to do tourism business, or did it only on a small scale, but now they have caught up with international integration trends of tourism development. Tourism businesses are staging fair competition and bolstering cooperation to build tourism value chains and share tourism benefits. Three tourist complexes built by the community include a tourist site in Phuong An 3 hamlet, Hung Phu commune, My Tu district; community tourism complex in Con My Phuoc Islet, Nhon My commune, Ke Sach district; and community tourism complex in Cu Lao Dung district.
After two years of the COVID-19 epidemic, Soc Trang tourism industry is entering a new normality. Could you please tell more details about this effort?
Before difficulties faced by tourism businesses and workers in the complicated epidemic development, the tourism sector advised the Provincial People's Committee to issue a decision ratifying a financial support of VND40.81 million for 11 tour guides as per Decree 68/ND-CP of the Government dated July 1, 2021; approved COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control plans for 20 accommodation facilities in Soc Trang City; and made a list of beneficiaries to send to Soc Trang Power for power bill reductions, valued VND1.116 billion, for 70 accommodation facilities; and slashed 50% assessment fees of practice cards for six tour guides.
The tourism sector has made every effort to restore the tourism market in the so-called new normalcy with many practical solutions like speeding up information and communication; organizing regular investor meetings to seek solutions and policies to stimulate tourism demand; supporting businesses to boost sales and expand the tourist market, with the immediate focus placed on Ho Chi Minh City, Southeast and Mekong Delta provinces; and urgently working with relevant agencies and local authorities to implement measures to ensure tourist safety at destinations and service facilities.
At the same time, the sector is focusing on fostering communication and promotion of Soc Trang tourism, opening destinations, making new tourism products to meet diverse and changing market needs, organizing training courses to improve management, administration and professional skills for tourist workers.
Beside negative impacts, the pandemic also brings in many new opportunities and new approaches. For the Soc Trang tourism sector, what are new opportunities, what are new directions and how is the sector actively utilizing these opportunities?
Domestic tourist sources are key to Soc Trang tourism in the post-pandemic period. In addition, an important approach is building package tours, allowing tourist attractions and service providers to resume their operations with the highest safety in the epidemic time. The 24% growth of tourist arrivals during Tet 2022 is clear proof of this.
Beside developing the domestic tourist market, based on the province’s policy on tourism development support, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has promoted information and communication on community tourist attractions and countryside tourism; invested and upgraded facilities to meet the needs of sightseeing, relaxation and entertainment for tourists who have tended to go in small groups and families in the COVID-19 epidemic time; and improved tourist services such as fishing, boat rowing, trekking, food and drink, and homestay with nature. Typical tourist attractions include homestay at Nga Nam floating market, Farmstay San Tien and Cu Lao Dung. During the peak season of Tet 2022, these attractions served an average of 100 - 300 visitors a day.
Together with tourism promotion solutions, the tourism industry of Soc Trang province is also enhancing local tourism images on the websites of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism (http://sovhttdl.soctrang.gov.vn), Soc Trang Tourism Agency (http://www.dulichsoctrang.org), Soc Trang Community Tourism Promotion Agency (http://dlcdst.soctrang.gov.vn) and social media networks like Facebook and Zalo; digitizing data and building an electronic bookcase (https://pubhtml5.com/) on the internet to gather Soc Trang tourism publications and deliver them directly to visitors via mobile devices. At the same time, the department is also promoting information technology application when attending online tourism events and virtual reality exhibitions organized by provinces and cities. In particular, we are carrying out the Smart Travel System Software with a smart travel portal and smart travel application on mobile devices to increase connectivity and interaction between authorities, companies and tourists.
Thank you very much!
By Vietnam Business Forum