01 April 2022, Vietnam: With long-standing agricultural production, poetic landscapes and ancient villages, Vietnam’s agricultural and rural areas have the potential for tourism development. Besides creating jobs, tourism brings in a significant amount of foreign currency. However, rural tourism development is small-scale and there does not have a linkage between agriculture, the tourism industry and other sectors.
Nguyen Minh Tien, director of the Agricultural Trade Promotion Centre, spoke with Vietnam News Agency about these issues.
What is the potential of Vietnam’s rural and agricultural tourism?
Vietnam has geographical conditions with mountains, forests, natural conservation zones and 54 ethnic groups with many festivals and traditional craft villages.
Tourists are mainly from urban areas, so they need to find a difference in rural areas.
Seventy per cent of the 1,300 tourist destinations nationwide are located in rural areas, and rural tourism has many different types.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), there are three main models of rural tourism: agri-tourism with experiential tourism products in cultivation, animal husbandry, floriculture, or horticulture. Community-based tourism involves activities linked to the traditional culture, especially ethnic minorities. The eco-tourism model is developed based on forest and sea ecosystems, and if the model is developed, Vietnam’s tourism industry will have new lines of ecological products.
How can Vietnam take advantage of this potential?
Since 2010, the national target programme for new-style rural areas has supported localities in infrastructure construction to create beautiful landscapes and contribute to cultural conservation in rural areas. It forms the potential to develop rural tourism.
According to the MARD’s statistics and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 365 rural tourist destinations have different models.
Localities recognise 36 community-based tourist destinations with at least three-star certificates, including 18 in the North, such as Hoa Binh, Yen Bai and Tuyen Quang, and 18 locations in the Centre and the South, such as Dong Thap, Ben Tre, and Lam Dong.
In the past, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic, rural tourism grew strongly, especially in localities with ecological landscapes and culture, such as Son La and Hoa Binh, with many community-based tourism models.
How will agricultural and rural tourism be developed over 2021-2025?
Vietnam needs to have a synchronous policy mechanism for rural tourism development because if there is no synchronisation between mechanisms and policies, it is tough to create favourable conditions for businesses and individuals to invest.
Accordingly, the MARD will review the planning for rural tourism, so every commune and village can develop tourism activities.
To create different tourism products, the commune or village must have differences in landscape, environment, culture, craft villages, customs, and habits.
Based on that planning, when rural tourism is part of the new-style rural development programme, it can use the financial resources from the new-style rural development programme to perfect the infrastructure system.
The ministry also emphasises the necessity to have a system of clean water, toilets and parking areas, and communication and information systems.
People also lack of skills in developing rural tourism, so the ministry has developed a training programme for households involved in the models.
MARD also plans to issue criteria for rural tourist destinations. Households running homestay or culinary services must meet set standards to ensure quality.
It is necessary to have connections among tours to ensure sustainable tourism development and contribute to increasing the revenue from tourism for localities. Localities must develop new tourism products to encourage tourists to increase spending.
I believe these solutions will create breakthroughs in rural tourism development.
Vietnam will gradually develop impressive tourism products for international tourists such as sea tourism, mountain tourism, festival tourism, and traditional cultural tourism.
What policies should Vietnam have to attract tourism businesses to invest more in rural tourism?
Firstly, the State will support the development of an infrastructure system for tourist destinations from roads, parking areas, environmental infrastructure, and information technology infrastructure.
It will also support owners of homestays in upgrading accommodation facilities and standardising accommodation systems to connect and share benefits in tourism activities.
Another factor that businesses are very interested in is the quality of human resources. The State will have mechanisms and policies to support companies in training labour force for rural tourism towards standardising labour to meet tourism needs.
In addition, businesses expect the State to enhance digital transformation. The pandemic has accelerated the development of services on digital platforms, so the ministry has proposed the Goverment support for standardising information about tourism destinations on such platforms.
Vietnam also needs to build a database on community-based tourist destinations as many international visitors want to search for information about tourism in Vietnam. Digital transformation will provide complete information about tourist destinations and rural tourism products.
Those policies on infrastructure development, human resource quality, planning, digital transformation and many other issues are expected to create a favourable environment for businesses to invest in the sustainable development of rural tourism./.