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Cham heritage holds tourism potential
Publication Date : 26-11-2012
The central Vietnam province of Quang Nam has great potential in history, tradition, culture and environment, as well as two Unesco-recognised world heritage sites and the world biosphere reserve of the Cham Islands, to promote sustainable tourism, said Lucy Russell, the editorial manager of QUO, a travel brand and communications agency, at a two-day workshop last week.
Russell also noted the province's advantages in developing strategic branding guidelines for local products aimed at the tourism market.
"The province has a special tradition of Cham relics and culture left from the past 2,000 years," she said. "The Co Tu ethnic minority in rural area still preserves cultural festivals, folk songs and games, cuisine and food."
She noted that the number of tourists coming to the province had risen by 40 per cent growth during 2006-11, with arrivals to Quang Nam totalling 2.5 million visitors last year.
"A survey showed that 27 per cent of international tourists come to explore the culture and history of the heritage in the province," Russell said. "Quang Nam is the only province in Vietnam with two world heritage sites – My Son Sanctuary and the ancient town of Hoi An – with a potential for sea and forest tourism."
Residents of provincial craft villages, however, say they have yet to benefit substantially from tourism.
"We receive around 1.2 million dong (US$57) from the city's tourism centre for hosting tourism," said Nguyen Lanh, a craftsman in Thanh Ha pottery village.
"The amount depends on the number of tourists visiting the village. The village, 3km away from Hoi An, hosts around 100 visitors each day.
With a ticket costing 25,000 dong, foreign tourists can visit and practice the craft at any pottery maker in the village." Pham Vu Dung, director of the Rose travel agency in Hoi An, said few travel agencies have co-operated with households in rural areas to boost tourism.
"Private travel agencies want to bring tours to mountainous areas, but they hesitate to fund villagers in building accommodation for them, due to limited financing," Dung said.
"Ethnic minority and agricultural communities in mountainous areas need support in the form of market access and product development assistance projects from the provinicial government and international organ-isations."
He speculated that tourists really want to see ethnic people weaving brocade and presenting folk performances, but local people cannot live well from the craft when they revive the trade.
"Most of them are poor, so they cannot upgrade their homes to provide accommodation for tourists," he added. "They need funds for hosting cultural performances and accommodations."
International organisations have supported the province with projects promoting craft village tourism and world heritage sites.
The workshop, co-organised by the provincial People's Committee and three UN agencies – Unesco, the International Labour Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation – also discussed strengthening visitor information centres, introducing innovative and culturally-appropriate tourism packages, and identifying areas in need of future support.