Regional linking to develop Central Highland tourism

Thursday, 2018-06-14 10:07:53
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At the Kon Tum Province Cultural Festival.
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NDO - If the “Central Region Heritage Road” brings visitors to a coastal feelings party, the “Central Highlands Green Road” promises to offer unique experiences of highland cultures. Regional linking is expected to increase the strength, durability and attraction of Central Highlands tourism. The regional linking will contribute to building the tourism brand of the whole region, while solving the real situation of single tourism development with its monotonous travel products. However, in order for the linking to succeed, it is necessary to have a scientific and detailed planning with appropriate policy institutions and the active participation of both state management agencies and enterprises.

Unique tourism space

In the mid-1990s, former commander Nguyen Duc Phuc, who had fought for many years in the Central Highlands, came up with the idea of a tour that would incorporate many factors related to the forest. From Da Lat, he led visitors to the old battlefield, through indigenous villages, monuments, and landscapes. He also organised folk music nights, with traditional dances of local people, for visitors. Through the tourism project, the villagers became his associates and improved their lives.

Following the successful idea of Nguyen Duc Phuc, travel agents in the Central Highlands provinces have thought of a "green road" journey to discover Vietnam.

The Central Highlands region has rich potential to develop tourism, with its rivers, waterfalls, and forests, the indigenous peoples’ sedimentary systems, history, tangible and intangible cultural heritages, and the characteristics of a plateau space. The area holds promise for the development of many types of tourism such as ecology, culture, resort, adventure sports, conferences, seminars and farm. Also from the "Central Highlands Green Road", many opportunities are expected to open large tourist areas in the country, especially in the border areas with Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.

In the common background of the Central Highlands space, each locality in the region has its own characteristics. Lam Dong is blessed with a favorable climate, cool weather all year round, rich soil; the system of unique architectural heritage, charming landscape; with diverse culture. As a result, this locality has the necessary potential and advantages to develop high quality and diverse tourism products. Lam Dong possesses many intangible cultural values, including the Central Highlands gong culture area, Nguyen Dynasty wood blocks and the Lang Biang Biosphere Reserve. Da Lat City was recognised by the Prime Minister as "Flower City".

Meanwhile, Gia Lai has a number of fascinating stories about its cultural and literary history, such as the myths associated with the resitance village Stơr and hero Dinh Nup; the vestiges of the Tay Son, and the rich spiritual life of indigenous people, especially the ancient village cuture of the Central Highlands area.

The great tourism potential of Dak Lak is its natural resources and rich cultural and human values, which are favorable for the development of many types of tourism, including ecotourism, tours to explore historical culture, and adventure tourism. Dac Nong has great strengths in natural resources, historical relics, cultural diversity of more than 40 ethnic minorities, and the Ót N'rông epic story of the M'nông ethnic group, which has been recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage. Kon Tum has Lung Leng archealogical relic, and Ngoc Linh mountain top.

It can be said that all of the riches of the Central Highlands can become an endless treasure for the tourism industry. If the attractions are coordinated and linked, they will create a separate "green road".

Exploitation unmatched with tourism potential

Although the tourism sector in the Central Highlands has prospered, due to many objective and subjective conditions, the tourism industry has not developed to the level of the available tourism potential.

The master plan for the development of Vietnam's tourism to 2020 with a vision towards 2030 was approved by the Prime Minister, identifying the Central Highlands as one of the seven key tourist areas. The Government's vision is tourism development based on strengthening links between the Central Highlands region and other regions in the country and linking with the world, to promote the tourism potentials and strengths in each locality and whole region.

However, in the middle of 2018, Tay Nguyen tourism has not had any breakthrough.

General Director of Saigontourist, Tran Hung Viet, said that it is necessary to solve the problem of the master plan and regional linking to overcome the situation of small development, as well as create synergy in investing and exploiting tourism services.

According to Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Lam Dong province, the Central Highlands provinces have many similarities, it is not easy to exploit and develop tourism for locals, where they all have the same potential attractions. With duplicate products, it is necessary to connect the locals, and build a common brand for Central Highlands tourism.

Aiming to successful regional linking

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has researched and offered the tourism products, such as tour "Central Highlands Green Road", the "Central Heritage Road" tourism route which becomes a crossroads from central region to the Central Highlands region, the linkage model "Three Countries, One Destination" to link destinations, natural heritage, highland land culture to the destinations of Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. However, these models have not been implemented or widely promoted.

It can be said that although each locality has tourism products and routes to connect, there is not yet a link between provinces, but only a focus on building intra-provincial routes, which is ineffective. Provinces that have signed cooperation agrrements have not held an alternate conference to assess the situation.

In order to develop tourism with "Central Highlands Green Road", the role of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, especially VNAT, is very important. First of all, VNAT should support the Central Highlands provinces in terms of planning; secondly, it is necessary to develop specific products of each province as well as the whole region. The ministry should direct the coordination committees to perform their role so that the localities can promote the efficiency of the connecting tourism products. The ministry should also give priority to building a common brand for the region, where the Central Highlands gong cultural space is the most specific. It is necessary to support the Central Highlands in promoting tourism, especially when promoting tourism abroad.

I think it is high time for tourism in the Central Highlands to link through specific actions, if not, the region’s tourism industry will continue as a small and fragmented industry. Local development will lead to duplication, and monotonous tourism products.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien
President of Viet Nam Institute of Economics

It is necessary to link the provinces in the Central Highlands to jointly develop infrastructure, design different types of tourism, promote regional culture, and serve many customers. The "Central Highlands Green Road" will link the roads to northeastern Thailand, southern Laos and Cambodia.

Chutathin Chareonlard
Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Ho Chi Minh City