Many things need to be done to develop tourism in Mekong Delta

VietNamNet Bridge – The Mekong Delta region is considered a land rich in tourism potential. However, income from tourism just accounts for 2.75 percent of Vietnam’s total income from the industry. The region receives less than 10 million travelers a year.


In mid-September, a big workshop organized by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in Rach Gia City in Kien Giang province, hosted participants discussing solutions to develop tourism in the Mekong Delta.


Same, same – nothing different


Before attending, VNAT’s senior officials and representatives from 15 travel firms made a fact-finding trip to the region. The travelers arrived in Con Phung (Phung Islet), Thoi Son isle or My Khanh Tourism Village, Cai Rang floating Market. Nguyen Thanh Vuong, Deputy Director of the Tourism Market under VNAT, noted that most of the tourism products prove to be identical.


In every area, travelers go to floating markets, ecological gardens, row boats on canals and listen to don ca tai tu (traditional amateur music). Meanwhile, from Ben Tre to Can Tho, travelers were invited to enjoy similar tourism products – visiting craft villages, eating traditional cakes and fishing for crocodiles.


It seems that travel firms are not creative, offering similar and copied products, which may make tourists jaded.


Le Phong Tran, a senior executive of Fiditour, noted that area authorities themselves do not understand the most outstanding characteristics of their areas that should be introduced to travelers


Nguyen Thi Bach Tuyet from the Tien Giang Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, admitted that the province is still proceeding by trial and error to create tourism products.


Meanwhile, the 13 provinces and cities in Mekong Delta have not sat down together to discuss how to cooperate in tourism.


List of requirements lengthens


The biggest problems that Mekong Delta is now facing are not only the lack of diversified products, but also the lack of a qualified workforce. There are 17,500 working in the tourism sector, 46 percent of whom are at hotels. However, most of them remain untrained or have experienced only short-term training courses.


The low quality workforce is also the headache of many travel firms when they plan to set up offices or branches in Mekong Delta.


According to Pham Phuoc Nhu, Chair of Mekong Delta’s Tourism Association, in Can Tho province, just 40 percent of employees can meet requirements, while the figure is just 10 percent in Ca Mau province.


Meanwhile, it seems that residents still do not think that they need to develop tourism and advertise the beauties of their localities. Huynh Hong Tham, Marketing Director of Saigon – My Tho Toserco, noted that her travel firm wants to design agriculture tours. However, most partners they contacted refused to cooperate, saying that they now earn enough to live on and they do not need to take on more work.


Residents also do not know much about the cultural value of their land, A lot of travelers go to My Tho district to find the old railway station, but residents cannot show them.


Do Cam Tho from the Tourism Research and Development Institute believes that the Mekong Delta needs to develop specific products, such as tours relating to the “orchard civilization, the tours to learn culture, beliefs and eco tourism. Besides, the region can also develop potential products such as MICE tours, sports and agriculture tours.”


Do Quoc Thong, Deputy General Director of Ben Thanh Tourist, said in Mekong Delta, there is still no cultural centre big enough to meet  travelers’ demands for relaxing. He thinks that one needs to be set up in Can Tho, where all kinds of regional traditional arts will be performed every night.


Phan Dinh Hue, Director of Vong Tron Viet Travel Firm, stressed that it is the Mekong River, not orchards, that has the greatest potential. To persuade travelers to spend more money, riverside resorts are needed.