This is both a direction for the sustainable exploitation and development of tourism and culture and a “key” to creating unique, different and attractive tourism products.
Tourism development in association with the preservation and promotion of cultural heritages’ values, is a guideline that has long been determined by the Party and State. Even the National Strategy for the Development of Cultural Industries in Vietnam until 2020, with a vision to 2030, affirmed that cultural tourism is one of the cultural industries in need of great investment. The strategy set a target that cultural tourism will account for 15-20% of the total 40 billion USD in revenue from tourists, by 2030.
In recent years, Vietnam has been continuously honoured by the World Travel Awards (WTA) as the World's Leading Heritage Destination, Asia's Leading Cultural Destination, and Asia's Leading Culinary Destination, etc. Many cultural tourism products and destinations with world cultural heritages have become important highlights on the tourist map of Vietnam, such as Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex (Ninh Binh Province), the Complex of Hue Monuments (Thua Thien Hue Province), My Son relic site and Hoi An ancient town (Quang Nam Province). These are proof of the attractiveness of Vietnamese cultural tourism to domestic and international tourists.
Tourism development in association with the preservation and promotion of cultural heritages’ values, is a guideline that has long been determined by the Party and State.
Contributing to diversifying and creating a unique mark for the travel itinerary, many unique cultural tourism products have been developed by tour operators in coordination with destinations, attracting a positive response from many tourists. Typical examples are the tour to Thang Long Imperial Citadel, the literary tour at the Literature Museum, the tour “French Architecture in Hanoi”, “The Quintessence of Tonkin” and “Hoi An Memories” shows.
However, according to the experts, in general, Vietnam has still not had many high-quality cultural tourism products commensurate with its potential. Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Director of the Institute of Tourism Development Research, said cultural tourism products in Vietnam are generally duplicated, less creative and of limited quality.
In addition, there is a lack of synchronisation and linkage in products’ development, as well as linkages among the localities in the process of exploiting cultural resources for tourism development, so sustainable quality cultural tourism products have not been created. This situation requires solutions to improve creativity in exploiting and developing cultural tourism products.
Le Thi Thu Trang from SGO Travel Company, which has successfully developed many cultural tourism products, such as the tours “Following Emperor Buddha's footsteps” and “Trying to be a Quan Ho singer”, said tourists are having higher requirements on the contents of the trips, not only the beautiful sights of the destination.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has too many cultural materials in all parts of the country. A special national-ranked relic, a world cultural celebrity, a folk tune, a traditional festival, a craft village, a road and a hat, etc., each contains its story. The responsibility of cultural tourism workers is to tell stories associated with the destinations and to connect many stories of destinations in the journey to bring or create real experiences for visitors, added Trang.
According to Vu Van Tuyen, General Director of Travelogy, there are many ways to increase the creative content in the construction and promotion of cultural tourism products, but there are three main ones: representation, simulation, and interpretation. The three forms are all aimed at giving visitors more impressions and deeper feelings about the types of tourism products, through real images, models, stories, cultural and historical legends or reasonable further fiction.
The responsibility of cultural tourism workers is to tell stories associated with the destinations and to connect many stories of destinations in the journey to bring or create real experiences for visitors, said Le Thi Thu Trang from SGO Travel Company
Many countries in the world such as China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are quite successful in both financial and technological investment, to apply all three methods mentioned above, in building and promoting tourism products associated with traditional craft villages and cultural, historical and culinary museums.
Tuyen said a cultural tourism product needs to meet all the elements of specificity, stability and openness. The product’s specificity contributes to creating attractiveness towards the target market and the stability is reflected in the service cycle and frequency of the product. Without stability, efforts and resources invested in tourism exploitation will be wasted. Meanwhile, the openness is reflected in the product’s ability to adjust according to specific circumstances and needs. The Travelogy’s Director also noted that tourism products are rarely exploited separately, but they are linked together to become tourist spots and routes, to meet the diverse needs of tourists.
Therefore, right in the planning and exploitation stages, it is crucial to take into account the possibility of linking the products with tours and destinations. In addition, to effectively exploit visitors, it is necessary to "shake hands" with tour operators or large tourist hubs. These partners not only are intermediaries in linking products together and acting as a bridge to bring products to tourists but also make practical requirements through the business process. Thereby, managers can adjust to improve the product exploitation process.
Regarding the macro issue, Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan said to develop cultural tourism, first of all, special attention should be paid to conservation and restoration work, to promote the values of cultural heritages and build the brand of each locality and nation, based on the inherent cultural foundations. In addition, it is essential to focus on investment in the development and improvement of infrastructure, material and technical services for tourism, as well as promote the role of the community and community culture in tourism development, to ensure the harmony of benefits gained from tourism development activities for the community.