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|A corner of Ha Long Bay (Photo: baochinhphu.vn)|
Quang Ninh - The northeastern province of Quang Ninh is one of the pioneers nationwide in implementing smart tourism solutions.
Smart tourism infrastructure has been improved throughout the province and is based on smart city development.
Simply put, smart tourism refers to the application of information and communications technology to ensure interaction between managers, businesses, and tourists.
Quang Ninh has favourable conditions to implement smart tourism, according to industry insiders, as it was ranked third in the Vietnam ICT Index in 2019.
Building integrated tourism data and a tourism portal has been defined as the first move and one of the top priorities in smart tourism for Quang Ninh.
Visitors are now able to access the local tourism information portal at halongtourism.com.vn and discoverhalong.com in Vietnamese, English, and Chinese, or through Quang Ninh tourism sector’s fanpage on Facebook, for the latest information.
These websites not only introduce popular destinations, entertainment, festivals, and specialty dishes but also include guidance for visitors to book rooms, cars, and tickets online, as well as hotlines to accept feedback on services.
They are expected to apply artificial intelligence in the future to help holidaymakers select and design their itinerary by themselves.
Quang Ninh also provides free wifi at airports, bus stations, and residential and tourism areas.
All vessels on Ha Long Bay - the province’s stand-out attraction - have had GPS installed to ensure tourist safety.
In April 2019, Uong Bi city launched its Dulichuongbi app for smartphones, which suggests popular destinations and provides detailed information on access, costs and estimated time to reach them.
Such apps are not only useful for travellers but also help businesses save on advertising costs and increase their links with customers and partners.
Quang Ninh is now focusing on its smart tourism administration centre, which is expected to be put into operation this year.
Smart tourism is expected to help Quang Ninh fully exploit its natural advantages for sea and island tourism. It has a coastline of more than 250 kilometres and more than 2,000 islands and islets which account for two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam.
In particular, Ha Long Bay literally “descending dragon bay”, was twice recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000. The bay spans 1,553 square kilometres and includes 1,969 islands of various sizes. It features thousands of limestone karsts and islets in various shapes and sizes. The limestone in the bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The geo-diversity of the environment has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea biosystem.
In 2018, Ha Long Bay made it into the top 15 Instagrammed global cruise destinations based on a survey of 1.8 million posts tagged on various ships and ports by travel cruise site SeaHub.
In 2019, British travel magazine Rough Guides included Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay in its selection of the 100 most beautiful places to visit next year. It describes “the scattering of limestone pinnacles jutting out of the smooth waters of Ha Long Bay”, around four hours east of Hanoi capital, as an “incredible sight”.
Most recently in 2020, Ha Long Bay was named amongst the 50 most beautiful natural wonders on Earth selected by US-based magazine Insider.
Last year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a master plan to develop Ha Long city into a world-class tourism and service hub by 2050. Under the plan, Ha Long will be converted into a civilised and friendly sea tourism city with synchronous and modern socio-economic infrastructure systems.