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Heritage tourism remains an unexploited gold mine

Heritage tourism remains an unexploited gold mine VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has a big “gold mine” – the heritage – which is very attractive to travelers. However, Vietnam’s tourism industry still does now how to exploit the mine.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has decided to name the 2012 tourism year “the national tourism year of coastal provinces in the north of the central region – Hue” with the themed “heritage tourism”.

Cultural heritages overexploited

Cultural tourism is now the growing tendency in many countries in the world. This type of tourism helps preserve the traditional culture, while it helps create jobs and increase in the incomes of local people. Vietnam has a gold mine of heritages, but it still does not know how to exploit it in the most effective way.

Dr Pham Trung Luong, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Tourism Development Research Institute, said that Vietnam is considering cultural heritages as the competitive edge in developing tourism, but the overexploitation has been frustrating the cultural heritages.

Luong has warned that the tendency of modernizing and commercializing cultural heritages when trying to develop tourism, has led to the fact that many traditional cultural values has become distorted and they have lost their inherent beauties.

The “waste of heritages” is occurring in Hanoi, the locality with the thousands-of-year culture history, where there are over 5000 relics, or 40 percent of the total relics in the country. These include three heritages which have been gloried by UNESCO. Here in the city, there are also the cultural space which creates specific features that cannot be seen in any other countries in the world, such as ancient villages, ancient streets and old streets.

In the eyes of travel firms, the heritages of the Thang Long land of thousands of years of civilization still could not become perfect tourism products to be introduced to international tourists.

When coming to Hanoi, travelers would be led to some favorite sites, including the West Lake, Quan Thanh Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Dong Xuan Market, ancient streets, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Hanoi Temple of Literature). They would also be led to President Ho Chi Minh relic site, or to museums and to theatres, where they can watch water puppet. With such itineraries, travelers would not be able to feel the specific cultural value of the land.

Very few travel firms dare to design the specific tours with the theme about Hanoi’s culture to offer to travelers regular as tourism products.

Explaining this, Dang Thi Tho, Director of the Hanoi Branch of Phuong Hoang, a travel firm, said that it is inconvenient to travel in Hanoi in such conditions of roads and traffic, and that travelers usually get traffic jam in peak hours.

Meanwhile, Tho said, many relics are located far in the villages, while the paths to the relics are small and muddy which are inaccessible by cars. A lot of relics have been downgrading seriously, because they have not got the appropriate attention from local authorities. Besides, Vietnam is lacking the tour guides who have deep knowledge about the relics to tell to travelers.

Resources must not be wasted

Foreign travelers now tend to try to learn and discover the traditional culture features of the places where they come to. Therefore, Vietnam, with its cultural attractiveness and thousands of relics, is really a good destination for them.

However, a lot of relics have been fallowed even after they got the ranking from the state. Local authorities and relevant branches have not had any plans to preserve and promote the values of the relics to serve the local tourism development.

Experts have called on to spend money, time and efforts to preserve cultural heritages. Building brands, upgrading the transport infrastructure, developing the systems of hotels and restaurants are all the solutions which have been put forward by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT.

Meanwhile, the Training Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has emphasized the need of training staff. There should be the tour guides who have good knowledge about historical monuments, and such tour guides can be found in the community. Every person can get involved in the tourism services after he is trained in tourism culture.