In recent years, Ninh Binh's tourism sector has witnessed strong growth with an increasing number of tourist arrivals and a growing amount of revenue. Ninh Binh has been become a bright spot in Vietnam's travel map, and ranked among top 15 leading destinations and top 10 provinces with the highest number of visitors. Apart from its outcomes, the tourism sector still sees weaknesses such as unattractive tourism products and poor entertainment activities which fail to keep tourists stay longer.
Tam Coc - Trang An tourism week.
Undiversified tourism products
Basing on rich tourism resources with historical and cultural relic sites, beautiful landscapes and nature, Ninh Binh has built numerous tourism products such as historical-cultural tourism, spiritual tourism and ecological tourism.
Besides, Ninh Binh has developed tourism products associated with
archeology, festivals, traditional craft villages, food tours and the countryside in a bid to provide diverse choices for visitors and to create unique images for Ninh Binh's tourism.
However, according to experts, Ninh Binh tourism's growth was mainly attributed to the increasing number of visitors who often spend very short stays in the province.
A survey conducted by the Department of Market under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, in the period of 2010 - 2019, the number of international tourists to Ninh Binh has almost doubled, from 600,000 in 2010 to nearly 1.1 million in 2019, accounting for 6 percent of the total number of foreign visitors to Vietnam. Meanwhile, the number of domestic tourists increased from 861,000 in 2010 to approximately 7.3 million in 2019.
However, the tourism sector gained only 3.7 trillion VND in revenue, making up only 0.5 percent of the country's total turnover. The figure showed that tourists' expenditures in Ninh Binh remained low as compared to the average figure of the whole country.
The reasons are attributed to unattractive tourism products and poor services.
In addition, some tourism products are similar and they lack linkages. For example, tourist sites like Van Long, Tam Coc, Trang An, and Kenh Ga all use boats to carry visitors, thus minimising their comparative advantages for Ninh Binh's tourism sector.
During a conference to promote Ninh Binh's tourism products, Douglas Hainsworth, Team Leader of the Swiss Sustainable Tourism Programme (SSTP), said the intact natural beauty of some tourist destinations like Trang An, Van Long, and Tam Coc would help Ninh Binh develop sustainable tourism. However, some tourism products are unattractive, and lack diversity and comparativeness to keep tourists stay longer.
Providing more attractive tourism products for visitors
In a bid to turn Ninh Binh's tourism into a spearhead economic sector, thus contributing to the restructuring of the economy, boosting socio-economic development, it needs to focus on developing tourism products which exploit heritage values and traditional culture sustainably. This is seen as a practical way to create unique local products and to meet the increasing demand of the tourism market.
Ha Van Sieu, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said Ninh Binh's tourism products are quite diverse, but they still need to rebuilt, linked and supplemented together.
Ninh Binh should also develop tourism products for night tours to provide more choices for visitors, he added.
Douglas Hainsworth suggested that Ninh Binh should redesign its tourism products in a sustainable way. The process of rebuilding must be carried out in many steps, under which potential of products need to be evaluated and key products need to be selected and promoted.
Besides, it should study the market, tourist groups, market segments and update new trends of tourism to build unique tourist products that show distinctive features of Ninh Binh.
Pham Thi Thanh Huong, head of the Hanoi UNESCO Committee's Culture Department, suggested designing tourism brochures in a more attractive manner to promote the province's images and specialties.
According Ninh Binh's Department of Tourism, on the basis of the province's tourism development master plan to 2025 with a vision until 2030; the Resolution of the 22nd Ninh Binh Provincial Party Congress for the 2020-2025 tenure; the Resolution No. 07/NQ-TU dated October 29, 2021 of the provincial Party Committee on tourism development in Ninh Binh province in the period of 2021-2030, with a víon to 2045; and experts' and travel companies' ideas, Ninh Binh will focus on designing tourism products to meet the demand of tourists.
Accordingly, Ninh Binh will survey the market first to define products with many activities, establishing tourism chains of sightseeing, entertainment, spiritual, lifestyle exploration, community culture and recreations. All these factors will be linked and arranged suitably to create unique tourism products.