Kien Giang looks to make tourism a spearhead

Friday, 2019-08-02 14:58:24
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The U Minh Thuong national park
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NDO - Located in the Mekong Delta region, Kien Giang province has rich and diverse cultural and tourist resources. In its development orientation, the province haspoured investment in and taken advantage of the tourismindustry to become a pillar for the economic sector of the province.

Tapping potential

Kien Giang is like a miniature Vietnam with diverse terrain including sea, islands, mountains, forest and plainswhich are wild and magnetic. Chairman of Kien Giang provincial People's Committee Pham Vu Hong said that Kien Giang has a coastline of over 200 km, a sea area of ​​63,000 km2, and more than 137 islands, including Phu Quoc Island - the largest island in Vietnam with a number of beautiful beaches.

In addition, the province has two national parks, includingU Minh Thuong national park which has the Melaleucaforest ecosystem in peatland recognised as the eighth Ramsar site of Vietnam. Kien Giang is the only province in the south that has many limestone mountains running close to the sea, creating unique and amazing natural landscape.

The province also has rich and valuable cultural and historical resources with more than 160 relic sites,including many revolutionary bases, such as: U Minh forest , Hon Dat, Ha Tien, and others. In addition, Kien Giang is located in the Oc Eo culture region of the ancient Vietnamese and the traditional Vietnamese - Khmer culture region.

With its potential and advantages, Kien Giang tourism has seen positive growth during the past years. The province welcomed more than 7.7 million visitors in 2018, an increase of 19% compared to 2017 and nearly doubled that of 2016. Kien Giang also received nearly 4.3 million visitors in the first half of 2019, including 405,000international visitors, up 35% over the same period last year. The province’s total revenue from tourism raised from VND3.7 trillion (US$159.1 million) in 2016 to VND6.4 trillion (US$275.2 million) in 2018, an increase of over 73%.

According to the provincial People's Committee, the province has so far attracted more than 300 projects to invest in the tourism sector with a total registered capital of over VND334 trillion (US$14.36 billion) including anumber of large-scale and world-class tourism projects. Kien Giang’s Phu Quoc Island was named in CNN's top five Asia Pacific autumn destinations 2018 and JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay was honoured as the Asia's best new resort in 2018 and ranked second in the Top 10 Asia Best Resorts in 2019, and others.

Missing out on advantages

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Quang Tung said that Kien Giang tourism has seenprogress but is yet to meet its potential and the province has a lot of room to further promote its tourism.

Tung noted that several destinations boast huge tourism potential but have yet to grow as expected including U Minh Thuong national park, the Kien Luong – Ha Tien – Hon Dat region and surrounding areas.

Investors mainly pour their investment into Phu Quoc Island, accounting for 84% of the total number of projects in Kien Giang and 98% of total investment capital in tourism projects in the province. It means that the attraction of investment capital in other destinations remains modest.

Visitors to Kien Giang often stay for a short time with insignificant spending, showing the lack of unique and high quality tourism products. The structure of tourism revenue is also going against the current trend. Revenue from accommodation, catering, and travel accounts for 81% of total tourism revenue while spending on other services is less than 20%. Meanwhile, the national average rate is around 30%-70% and the rate is higher in countries with growing tourism like Thailand.

Moreover, Kien Giang province has yet to take advantage of transboundary coastal route connecting the province with Ca Mau, Cambodia and southern Thailand or the overland route connecting the province with An Giang province’s Chau Doc city and the border areas of Vietnam and Cambodia.

Striving to be a tourism attraction

Deputy Minister Le Quang Tung said that Kien Giang province should restructure its tourism industry while promoting the connection between sectors, localities, enterprises, household businesses and the community to form a tourism value chain and ensuring that the community, businesses and visitors all benefit from tourism.

Kien Giang also needs to implement well its master plan for tourism development including the goal of turning Phu Quoc Island into a world-class tourist centre. Kien Giang province along with Can Tho city should take responsibility for attracting and coordinating tourists tothe Mekong Delta region. It is also necessary to call for investment in the province's major tourist areas such asHa Tien - Kien Luong, Rach Gia - Kien Hai, and U Minh Thuong area in connection with Phu Quoc Island and Mekong Delta region.

“International tourists are increasingly seeking authenticity and indigenousness with activities associated with natural exploration. Therefore, Kien Giang needs to call upon and encourage strategic investors to develop high quality tourism products and services in accordance with the tourism characteristics of the province. It should focus on key tourism products, including: island and sea tourism, cultural tourism, tourism associated with nature –ecology,” Deputy Minister Le Quang Tung said.

Director of Kien Giang Provincial Department of Tourism, Tran Chi Dung, said that the province will concentrate on strengthening regional links, creating a tourism product chain, and increasing the attractiveness of its destinations. It will coordinate with provinces in the Mekong Delta region to protect and promote the value of intangible cultural heritage such as Don Ca Tai Tu(Southern amateur music). Kien Giang will also partnership with An Giang and Dong Thap provinces to build a dossier to seek UNESCO recognition for the Oc Eo culture vestiges as the world cultural heritage.

Dung noted that the province will study to build international tours by air, sea and road while opening direct flights to high potential markets. It will also take advantage of the sea travel route connecting Phu Quoc with Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Thailand and Malaysia and the transboundary coastal route linking Kien Giangwith Ca Mau, Cambodia and southern Thailand.

In addition, the province will boost tourism promotion inpotential markets to increase international visitors to Kien Giang. It is also necessary to improve the training of human resources in the tourism sector and the application of science and technology in developing tourism.

"With specific orientations and solutions, Kien Giang tourism industry has set the goal of becoming a spearhead economic sector by 2030," Dung added.