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Central region needs stronger tourism links

Update: January, 10/2015 - 08:54
Tourists visit the Minh Mang Royal Tomb in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. The central coastal region aims to host 6 million foreign tourists and 8 million domestic visitors with total revenue of US$2.1 billion by 2020, creating 80,000 jobs. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
DA NANG  (VNS) — The central coastal region needs to establish stronger links between its localities to overcome several tourism development barriers, central and local officials said at a meeting yesterday.

The region had not fully developed its tourism potential despite being home to attractive destinations including world heritage sites, said Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Huynh Vinh Ai.

He was speaking at the meeting held in Da Nang to announce a six-year (2015-2020, with vision until 2030) masterplan for the sectors in the region.

The meeting focused on the Prime Minister's approval of priority infrastructure projects in the region and the formulation of a long-term sustainable development strategy.

The region has great tourism destinations like Hoi An, the My Son Sanctuary, the Hue Monument Complex and various intangible cultural heritages, but the lack of co-ordination between the localities had prevented effective exploitation of such "gold mines," Ai said.

The master plan, approved by the Prime Minister last November, should establish clear links between the localities and facilitate effective infrastructure investments while avoiding extravagant ventures, he added.

The plan envisages that the region will welcome six million foreign tourists and eight million domestic visitors, earning tourism revenues of US$2.1 billion by 2020 and creating 80,000 jobs in the process.

Corresponding figures for 2030 are expected to reach 10 and 15 million foreign and domestic tourists, tourism revenues of $3.8 billion and 140,000 new jobs.

The Ministry reported at the meeting that the central coastal region welcomed 3.48 million and 7.83 million foreign and domestic visitors in 2013 respectively, earning VND15.79 trillion ($752 million) in 2013, just eight per cent of the country's tourism income.

The Master Plan identifies 53 priority infrastructure projects for the 2015-2020 period.

Officials pointed out that the region lacked academic institutions that can train personnel for the tourism industry.

Nguyen Van Sy, an expert from the ministry, said that with a population of 6 million and 500km coastline, the region had huge potential for tourism development, especially sea and island tourism.

Cross-border tours

"The region, which is situated in the East-West Economic Corridors, will help boost caravan tours and links with Mawlamyine, Myanmar; Khon Kaen, Thailand; Savanakhet, Laos, Hue and Da Nang," Sy said.

"The southern corridors will link Dawei, Myanmar; Bangkok, Thailand; Siam Reap, Cambodia and Quy Nhon city in Binh Dinh Province," he added.

He noted that while the region had quite a good network of airports, seaports, national highways and railway lines, unequal development among provinces in the region was a barrier for rapid growth of tourism.

Other tourism barriers were rapid urbanisation, absence of mass transport and too many Industrial Zones and Economic Zones, he said, adding that the region's vulnerability to natural disasters was yet another inhibiting factor.

Ngo Quang Vinh, Director of the Da Nang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, felt that the region needed a single agency to oversee tourism development.

"We have established a tourism link between Da Nang, Hue and Hoi An. But we really need overall management and co-ordination by a single agency," Vinh said.

Vinh's counterpart from Quang Ngai, Nguyen Dang Vu, said the province lacks a big theatre or sports arena that can host large-scale events.

Policy changes are needed to attract investment, particularly from the private sector, in tourism and cultural facilities like museums and sports stadiums he said.

With Da Nang as a key location, the region will strive to train 1,500 top athletes in nine main sports by 2030.

Truong Dong Hai, deputy director of Binh Dinh's Culture, Sport and Tourism department, said the ministry should earmark projects for priority investments in the master plan.

He said the Binh Dinh's martial arts and Tuong (classical drama) should be promoted as national heritages.

Deputy Minister Ai noted that bai choi, a traditional game combining folk singing and lottery, had recently gained national cultural heritage status, and experts were preparing to apply for UNESCO recognition in 2015.

Ai, who heads the steering committee of the regional board, said the ministry would soon assign an agency to co-ordinate the development of tourism, culture and sports in the region. — VNS

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