The western cluster of the Mekong Delta region comprises Can Tho City and the six provinces of Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Soc Trang, An Giang, Hau Giang and Kien Giang.
In the first six months of the year, the number of tourist arrivals to the cluster rose by 11 per cent to reach 17.8 million, accounting for more than 76 per cent of total tourist arrivals to the Mekong Delta region.
Tourism revenue was estimated at VND10.4 trillion (US$452.1 million), a year-on-year increase of more than 33 per cent.
Tran Hieu Hung, director of Ca Mau Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the tourism co-operation programme in the western cluster failed to bring expected outcomes due to an overlap in tourism products and uninteresting inter-regional tour packages.
Under the programme, the seven localities pledge to cooperate in marketing and promotion activities, new tourism products, unique inter-regional tour packages, human resource training, and international and national tourism events.
But the tourism potential in these localities has yet to be fully realised due to loose regional linkages in development of new tourism products and an overlap in tourism products, poor infrastructure and services, as well as ineffective and insufficient marketing.
Bui Quoc Thai, deputy director of Kien Giang Province’s Department of Tourism, said localities in the Mekong Delta region were seeking unique tourism products.
The Mekong Delta region is well known for its waterway landscape, rice paddy fields, and verdant orchards, but localities do not invest in innovative and attractive models, resulting in similar tourism products, Thai said.
Floating markets, Don ca tai tu (southern amateur music) and food, for example, are designed for all kinds of tours. As a result, travellers just visit one place in the region.
Pham The Trieu, deputy director of An Giang Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said tourism human resources lacked skills in communication, foreign languages, and professional and management skills.
Although tourism infrastructure and lodging facilities in the region have developed rapidly to meet the rising demand, most are small scale, Trieu said.
There is also a lack of high-end facilities and services operated by famous brands, he said.
Tourism experts said the linkages in tourism products aim to give diverse experiences and attractive itineraries to tourists.
Du To Tuan, director of Vietravel’s Bac Lieu Province branch, said that localities should take into consideration the demand of different age groups and incomes as well as specific market segments such as local and inbound tourists to develop tourism products and marketing strategies.
Tourism products for inbound visitors should focus on ecotourism tours, cultural and craft villages, local lifestyles and festivals.
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