Natural and Cultural Resources Tourists Urged to 'Conserve While You Use'
Ha Noi - With technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) commences revising the Master Plan for Tourism Development in Viet Nam to 2010, with a view to conserving the resources utilized by tourism. UNDP is providing US$232,000 to fund a six-month project as part of this process.
"The natural and cultural resources of Viet Nam are part of the nation's valuable heritage and a major tourist attraction," said Robert Glofcheski, UNDP Officer-in-Charge. "This UNDP-supported project aims to help Viet Nam update its tourism master plan in order to effectively manage and protect these irreplaceable resources."
According to the VNAT, Viet Nam welcomed 2 million foreign tourists by 10 December this year. Tourism thus plays an important role as a source of foreign income being injected into Viet Nam's economy.
"The Government has identified tourism as an important economic branch which is given high priority in the national socio-economic strategy for the 2001-2010 period and the strategy for tourism is being finalized for submission to the Government for approval," said Vu Tuan Canh, Vice Chairman of VNAT.
To achieve the project's goal, national and international experts are working together in a team to update an earlier Master Plan prepared by VNAT in 1995. Special considerations to be incorporated in the revised and updated plan include, among others, economic opportunities for the regions with economic difficulties; and small and medium tourism enterprises development.
Tourism not only generates foreign revenue, but also has the potential to create jobs for local people in rural areas, rather than forcing job seekers to the urban centres. The updated plan will look to generate jobs, in particular in rural and mountain areas, thus ensuring the benefits of tourism flow down to the local community level. "The new Master Plan is expected to set policy and approaches to encourage locals to be more involved in tourism," says Laurence Moss, Chief Technical Adviser to the project.
Tropical beaches, as well as mountainous areas, and the culture of ethnic minorities living there, are typically the greatest attractions for the majority of tourists visiting Viet Nam. However, coastal and mountainous areas are very sensitive to overuse. In order to protect these unique tourism resources of Viet Nam, it is necessary to measure the changes brought about by tourism. The UNDP project will develop change indicators for tourist sites, attractions and activities in order to assess the impact of tourism on these resources.
Apart from conserving natural resources, the updated plan will also aim to maintain cultural resources. "Tourism is not only about what visitors want, but also what Vietnamese hosts want to get from tourism beside material profit," said Mr Moss. "If we don't want local communities, especially ethnic minorities, to be overwhelmed by tourism, we have to take into account the impact of the tourism on the local cultures."
In particular, the project will provide two training workshops on tourism marketing and strategic approaches to sustainable development planning for relevant staff from the VNAT, provincial authorities, universities and the private sector. The workshops are scheduled for December 2000 and February 2001.
UNDP Public Information Unit, at 942 1495