Vietnam has more than 100 national parks and nature reserves, and approximately 40,000 tangible and intangible cultural heritages. The country also has 18 World Heritages recognised by UNESCO, including two natural heritages, five cultural heritages, eight intangible cultural heritages and three royal documents heritages.
The country possesses rich natural resources and an ancient and durable culture forming its national identity. These offer potential momentum for tourism development. Vietnam’s tourism has formed outstanding destinations and tours to attract visitors, namely the Northern Rectangle Hanoi- Ha Long -NinhBinh -Hai Phong, the central chain Da Nang – Hue, the South Central Coast with two focal points Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa province) and Phan Thiet (BinhThuan province), Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring provinces in the South, Da Lat (Lam Dong province) in the Central Highlands.
Along with tying the most prominent cultural heritages to other destinations in the tour system, Vietnam began investing in infrastructure and improving tourism services. Vietnam also strengthens heritage tourism branding.
Vietnam tourism development strategy to 2020 with the vision to 2030 also sets out that Vietnam’s tourism, as a driving force of economic development, needs to focus on building high quality, unique, diverse and comprehensive tourism products; simultaneously, clearly study the demands of target customers from different markets, from which to create premium, high value tourism products, becoming a popular competitive tourist brand regionally and internationally.
Until now, Vietnam has initially exploited and successfully connected cultural heritages and natural heritages to form tourism centres in the area with comprehensive tourism products. National Tourism Year 2015 in Thanh Hoa province with the theme “Connecting the World Heritages”, in which the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will coordinate with ThanhHoa to organise many activities, along with others held by Phu Tho, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and ThuaThien-Hue.
However, according to Nguyen Van Tuan, Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), what we have done is only the first steps; we still have a long way to go. With the theme “Connecting the World Heritages,” National Tourism Year 2015” is expected to contribute to raising public awareness about tourism development, and promote links between localities participating in this event in order to promote tourism Year and attract investment for tourism development in the region, as well as inter-regionally.
Vietnam is open and pro-active in the integration with the world economy. In many countries in the ASEAN region, the connection and trade among countries will be strengthened especially in 2015 when the formation of common economic community facilitated trade, services and development investment. Vietnam also follows that trend as it created links for tourism development as well as regional and multi-national destinations.
Vietnam has a regional connection programme “Three countries – one destination” Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia, focusing on the connection between landmarks, typical heritages of the three countries.
Recently, Vietnam has also participated in the connection “Five nations – one destination” including Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia-Myanmar-Thailand. This is a typical pattern for the connection, boosting tourism development of neighbouring countries in the Mekong region downstream.
By participating in these programmes, countries including Vietnam will be in a healthy competition on the basis of mutual benefit, and promote the heritage values of the area. During the past years, Vietnam has focused on promoting the heritage value for tourism development but results achieved are not really impressive, even with world heritages. According to experts, Vietnam Tourism lacks unique tourism areas and tourism products compared with those in the region and the world. Tourism efficiency is far lower than countries like Thailand and Singapore.
The role of tourism enterprises are also important; therefore, there must be a connection to raise people’s awareness about conserving and promoting heritage values, increasing benefits of the community, tourism businesses, from that promoting tourism development.