Diversifying tourism products
At the end of December, 2007, a group of cruise ship tourists, after docking at Tan Cang - Cai Mep port in the coastal southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, made an interesting excursion into the markets of Ba Ria - Vung Tau province. The trip was organised by Alpha Travel. On the journey, the visitors went to Long Dien market - a typical Southern market. Although the market’s small traders were busy, they welcomed the visitors with friendly smiles. The tourists also visited Nguyen Thi Bong’s banh trang (rice paper) manufacturing facility at Long Phuoc commune, Ba Ria city. The visitors had the chance to learn about the process of making the traditional Vietnamese banh trang products; meanwhile they also experienced making a banh trang and enjoy the product.
Furthermore, Albert Smith, one of the visitors, shared that he likes to go to the Bung Bac Eco-Tourism Area to experiencing the life of a Vietnamese farmer with activities such as ditching, fishing, boating and visiting chicken farms, fruit gardens, as well as enjoying traditional Vietnamese foods.
According to Tran Ngoc Cuong, Director of Phuoc Lap Cooperative - the owner of Bung Bac Eco-Tourism Area at Phuoc Huu hamlet, Long Phuoc commune, Ba Ria city the tourism area covers an area of more than 1.7 hectares. Previously, the tourism area was only a place where members of the cooperative planted fruit trees, vegetables and farmed fish, he added. However, after realising the development potential in becoming an ecotourism destination, the cooperative transformed its activity and invested in building infrastructure to serve tourists, including restaurants and boats to visit lotus ponds. Additionally, the cooperative also presented tourism services such as riding bicycles under water and fishing. Along with the wild and peaceful scenery, the resort always attracts a large number of domestic and international visitors.
According to Nguyen Ngoc Hung, Director of Alpha Travel Company, the international cruise ship tourists are mostly elderly people from developed countries, who spend a lot and have strict requirements on service quality. Previously, the reception and organisation of tours in Ba Ria – Vung Tau did not met the requirements, so the proportion of tourists traveling to the province by cruise ships was very little. However, the number of tourist arriving by sea has increased markedly because tourism enterprises have actively invested in and renovated their tours, as well as improving their service quality.
In addition to renovating their tours, the province has also boosted its investment in and development of large-scale tourism projects in order to attract international visitors to Ba Ria - Vung Tau, encouraging businesses to exploit the potential tourism markets. Many large tourism complexes have gradually formed and gained prestige, such as Ho Tram Strip or Six Senses Con Dao. In the time ahead, the province has great expectations of the formation and development of the Paradise Vung Tau project.
Building a reputable brand
Determining tourism as one of the pillars of local socio-economic development, in early 2017, Ba Ria - Vung Tau province decided to re-establish the Tourism Department. By the end of the year, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Provincial Party Committee had issued a resolution on developing high-quality tourism, which aimed to develop the tourism infrastructure and improve the quality of tourism products and services in the direction of modernity and difference, while ensuring a safe, civilized and friendly tourist environment. According to Trinh Hang, Director of the Tourism Department of Ba Ria- Vung Tau province, since its establishment, the Tourism Department has advised the Provincial People's Committee on many plans such as the census of tourist accommodation establishments throughout the province, the plan on enhancing the management of tourist destinations, the plan on regulations to select tourism establishments with the title "Meeting the standards for tourist service", the plan on regulations to manage the beaches, and completing the master plan on tourist development of Ba Ria - Vung Tau province by 2025, with a vision to 2030.
With the efforts of the provincial tourism industry and local authorities, the image of Ba Ria - Vung Tau tourism has created a positive impression for visitors. According to Nguyen Thu Trang, from Ho Chi Minh City, since Vung Tau city launched a beach clean-up campaign, my family has decided to choose the place as a regular tourist destination. "We are really impressed with the determination of the local authority", she added. Many other visitors to Vung Tau at this time have also been impressed by the changes in the destination. Vung Tau tourism is very much regaining its prestige and class.
Beside Vung Tau city, a series of localities with strong tourism in the province, such as Dat Do, Long Dien, Xuyen Moc and Con Dao districts all have strong solutions to improve the quality and prestige of the tourism industry. Director of the provincial Tourism Department Trinh Hang said that in order to develop Con Dao tourism in the future, the province should propose the upgrading of Con Son airport in accordance with the approved master plan, which aims to ensure welcoming Airbus A320s aircrafts or the equivalent; to strengthen investment in high-speed boat projects connecting Con Dao to the mainland; build bridges linking island systems; and invest in building 13 freshwater reservoirs and waste treatment systems in the district.
Secretary of the Ba Ria – Vung Tau provincial Party Committee Nguyen Hong Linh expressed her determination and expectation that in 2017, Ba Ria - Vung Tau province welcomed nearly 3 million visitors, up 11.3% over 2016. "This is a good signal in the context of the provincial tourism industry which is trying to build an image and improve its quality. However, it is necessary to overcome the barriers that hinder the development of Ba Ria - Vung Tau tourism, in 2018 and the following years. Besides attracting tourists to Ba Ria - Vung Tau, the province also expected to increase the number of foreign tourists from demanding markets.”, he added.
It is well known for its famous tourist attractions associated with historic values, the beautiful beaches such as Ho Coc, Binh Chau, Bai Sau and Bai Truoc. Ba Ria - Vung Tau has been a well-known tourism for some time brand. Continuing to build and affirm the Ba Ria - Vung Tau image with the prestige and high quality is not an easy task. The efforts of the provincial Party Committee and the authorities has brought positive signals for local tourism, although the tasks for time ahead are very difficult, requiring the participation of local people, who are messengers for the tourism industry.