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|Halong-Van Don Expressway is expected to help transform Van Don in particular into an upscale tourism destination|
|The tourism hotspot of Quang Ninh|
Creating a distinction in the province’s appeal and providing an unforgettable experience for visitors is an urgent and essential task for Quang Ninh, according to Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of the Quang Ninh Department of Tourism in a recent meeting with local press.
Last year, Quang Ninh welcomed 12.2 million visitor arrivals, up 24 per cent on-year, with more than 5.2 million coming from overseas. The tourism sector contributed 9.3 per cent of the province’s GDP.
The province also played host, for the second time, of National Tourism Year. As a result, a number of highly-connected events were held, leaving lasting impressions on both domestic and international visitors. The opening ceremony featured music and light on a stunning stage, with more than 10,000 visitors and locals attending.
Importantly, Quang Ninh successfully hosted more than 50 different events for tourism promotion throughout the last year. Consequently, the number of visitors setting foot in the province in 2018 rose sharply, beating the target noted in the province’s tourism development master plan for 2020.
In what was a busy year in 2018, Quang Ninh also put into operation many vital infrastructure and tourism facilities, enhancing its status on the global destination map.
Earlier this year, Quang Ninh was chosen to become host location of the ASEAN Tourism Forum, which attracted about 2,000 delegates. Attendees included representatives from tourism agencies of ASEAN member states, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and other international organisations, business associations, and top tourism media agencies. The event attested to Quang Ninh’s improving image as a thriving and hospitable destination to the international community.
Thuy of the Quang Ninh Department of Tourism said, “These factors have provided the bedrock underpinning the provincial tourism sector’s vigorous development in the years ahead. This year, Quang Ninh strives to greet 14 million visitors, with six million to come from overseas, generating about VND27 trillion ($1.17 million) in tourism revenue.”
Thuy added that next year, the province seeks to welcome 15-16 million visitors, increasing to 30 million visitors by 2030, with half of them to come from overseas.
QUALITY IMPROVEMENT AS A HIGHLIGHT
In a recent forum on the country’s human resources in tourism, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pointed out the “three Cs” (in Vietnamese) to turn the country into a more appealing tourism paradise, referencing con nguoi (humanity), co so ha tang (infrastructure), and chien luoc (strategy).
As a result, the province’s tourism sector is taking concrete actions focusing on the three factors in order to further development. According to associate professor Tran Dinh Thien, a member of the economic advisory group to the prime minister, turning tourism into a spearhead economic sector and the province into a global tourism brand is of paramount importance. He noted, however, that it will also take great time and effort in order to reach that target.
Towards this goal, maximising the potential and advantages of the province as a whole and its every location to turn services into an important sector is a must, in parallel to accelerating the implementation of modern tourism infrastructure and services projects, striving to put into use new tourism venues of global significance besides current Halong tourism hub.
To solicit more and more groups of higher-spending visitors, Quang Ninh has paid due heed to presenting open policies and mechanisms, willing to accompany investors’ journey to remove difficulties in a timely manner, and focusing on attracting high-profile investors.
New capital inflows are being sought to help Quang Ninh turn its Van Don area into a destination for upscale tourism and services revenue with casino that adopts state-of-the art technology, providing a fulcrum for the province’s development.
The areas of Co To, Vinh Trung, and Vinh Thuc in Mong Cai city will be turned into a premier resort destination, with an airport and port to serve higher-spending tourist groups, alongside developing spiritual tours in suitable areas such as Uong Bi, Dong Trieu, and Quang Yen.
HITTING THE GLOBAL TRAVEL MAP
The Smiles of Halong programme, launched at the end of 2014, has succeeded in leaving good impressions on visitors to Quang Ninh in the past couples of years. It aimed to encourage locals to become ambassadors for the area, ensuring that the province gained a reputation as a friendly and hospitable destination for all.
Le Tuan Anh, director of the Tourism Information Centre and former deputy head of the Department of International Co-operation under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, noted that the branding of a destination is what is conceived in the target market’s mindset, reflecting the core values and characteristics of the location.
Cultivating the branding for Quang Ninh’s tourism in the upcoming time, therefore, needs to redefine the province’s core values at present and in the near future, and also that branding must be linking to emotional factors. Branding is more than just a simple slogan.
“Redefining and building up Quang Ninh tourism’s brand must follow prudent steps and be well-planned, as it links to the tourism sector’s construction and development plan as well as the province’s social and economic development. The province will learn how to create international brands from several eminent examples globally,” noted Thuy of the Quang Ninh Department of Tourism.
Today, Quang Ninh is one of the localities trailblazing in pushing up a smart city model with heritage values and innovative reforms, but in terms of tourism development little progress has been made.
Le Quoc Vinh, chairman cum CEO of media group Le Bros, recently provided recommendations to Quang Ninh on how to develop a distinctive tourism brand. Accordingly, instead of introducing diverse natural attractions, local specialties, or cuisine, it is important to focus on promoting the soul through individualised tourism products. That is also what many countries have applied in order to promote their tourism, Vinh noted.
In a seminar last month on Quang Ninh’s tourism development, experts and industry entrepreneurs provided ideas on how to build up a distinct brand for the province’s tourism over the next three decades.
Finding the answer to just what the province stands for, as well as raising resources to increase exposure to the international community effectively look set to be the major issues going forward in transforming the province into one of Vietnam’s leading tourism hubs of the future.