|A view of Ba Na hill in the central city of Da Nang. The city is expected to develop a master plan to facilitate high quality tourism, in order to turn Da Nang into an international centre of tourism and service industries. — VNS Photo Truong Vi.
DA NANG (VNS) — The central city of Da Nang should recognise where it is on the world tourism map and the role the administration can play to boost the tourism industry, said economist Tran Du Lich at a seminar on Saturday.
The seminar, titled: Developing Da Nang into an international centre of tourism and service industries, drew the participation of 300 participants from the US, Japan, Germany, Singapore and Viet Nam.
"Da Nang is at the centre of many tourism destinations and world heritage sites, including Hoi An, the My Son Sanctuary, the Hue Monument Complex and Phong Nha-Ke Bang.
The city should develop a master plan to facilitate high quality tourism, not just the number of visitors," Lich said.
"The city has to answer questions about how to make visitors stay longer, using entertainment, shopping and other attractions. The city's tourism industry should think about how to encourage tourists to spend more during their vacations," Lich suggested.
Vice chairman of the city's People's Committee, Huynh Duc Tho, said the seminar was a chance for experts and managers to discuss how to turn the city into an international tourism destination.
"We wan to become an international destination by using our beautiful beaches, mountains and pristine nature reserves in the Son Tra peninsula," Tho said.
"The city has seen big changes after we turned the slums into resorts and hotels that face the ocean. However, we have yet to reach our full potential," he said.
Robert Day, vice president and director of Planning and Landscape at WATG, said Da Nang was already Viet Nam's third largest city and was still rapidly developing.
"There have been several conferences helping to define how, what and where Da Nang and its hinterland should grow. But Da Nang's land area and potential is far too big to have one blanket approach to tourism over the entire city and its hinterland," Day said at the seminar.
"There is a real need to develop distinct tourism zones within the city to cater for different market segments. Being a true city, Da Nang also has the physical space to provide most of the required accommodation and other amenities anticipated for this central region."
Peter Dyder, general manager of Indochina Capital, said the city should increase international airlift.
"One area that is impacting airlift and the arrival of new carriers from new destinations is airport landing fees. The cost for an airline to land in Da Nang is more than double that of comparable destinations. This is prohibiting airlines flying to Da Nang as they can not make adequate profit to justify the route," Dyder said.
He also said the visa process needed to be simplified.
"To obtain a visa in a foreign country such as Australia, the US or UK costs about US$100 per person. A family of four adds up to $400 on visas alone, enough to make them reconsider coming to Viet Nam," he said.
According to a report by the World Tourism Orgnisation and World Travel and Tourism Council, Viet Nam could increase international arrivals by 8-18 per cent if it implements the visa on arrival system.
Dyder suggested the city should create more international standard tourist attractions and events like the Iron-Man Triathlon or even the Da Nang Formula One race weekend.
Don Lam, CEO of Vinacapital, said Da Nang should improve service quality and prioritise tourism development activities.
He said tourists had nowhere to go after 10pm in the city, while the marketing budget for tourism was too low.
Amir Ahmad Mohamad, general manager of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Plaza Hotel Da Nang, said the city was yet to develop into an international entertainment centre to lure tourists during long vacations.
He said tourism and marketing promotion were still poor, while Da Nang was just known as a destination for domestic visitors, not like Hoi An.
Speaking at the conference, director of the Viet Nam Institute of Economics Tran Dinh Thien pointed out that the city still lacked the qualities to make it a livable city.
"Sea tourism is our main attraction, but mountains, forests, crafts and adventure tourism are not promoted enough. This is the reason why tourists who visit the city just enjoy seafood on the beach for three or four days," Thien said.
"It has no city centre in the tourism sense, and there aren't many entertainment centres for people to spend around the beach resorts and hotels."
According to the latest report, the city welcomed 3 million tourists in the first three quarters this year, earning VND7.8 trillion (US$371 million).
The city has 22,000 tourism workers, but 40 per cent of them are unskillful.
Da Nang has attracted 60 investment projects in tourism property, including 13 FDI projects, with total capital of $4 billion. — VNS