Vietnam's tourism going the wrong way: Tourists prefer green travel, not skyscrapers

More and more international-standard resorts and hotels have arisen in Vietnam, but these facilities are not what foreign travelers want. They visit Vietnam to ‘return to nature’.

Returning to Canada after a trip to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam in 2005, David Hutt, an Australian businessman, decided to come back to the beautiful island with his family members to enjoy the white sand and blue sea, the palm trees covering part of the beach, and red-earth trails.

Vietnam's tourism going the wrong way: Tourists prefer green travel, not skyscrapers

But he was disappointed when he returned three years ago. The natural beauty no longer existed. What he saw was a large construction site with hundreds of migrant laborers working day and night for a resort project.

Zakaria Osman, an Italian businessman, came to Vietnam in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2014 and each time when he returned, he saw more resorts hiding beaches.

“Concrete blocks, construction sites and high-rise buildings have replaced natural beauty friendly to humans,” he said, adding that he would have to think carefully about whether to visit Vietnam with his family again.

Eurocham, in one of its reports, said that the poor management of natural resources and destinations, and the lack of attractive tourism products and services may affect Vietnam’s competitive edge and hinder tourism growth in upcoming years.


An expert noted that Vietnam’s tourism seems to have undergone plastic surgery to become suited to travelers’ tastes. However, the new face seems to be far different from the tastes of modern travelers.

A recent survey by TripAdvisor found that 2/3 of travelers prefer green tourism, which shows that travelers prefer trips which allow them to enjoy beautiful untouched landscapes, rather than modern skyscrapers.

According to EuroCham, nature tourism and heritage tourism are the segments which bring the highest profits to the global tourism industry.

Community tourism, certified green accommodation facilities, local organic food and restaurants, nature discovery tours, and responsible volunteer experiences are the favored products.

 

Vietnam has natural conditions to develop green tourism products.

Le Quang Tung, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, speaking at an event last week, affirmed that Vietnam’s strategy is to develop tourism together with protecting the natural environment and preserving national cultural values.

However, what is actually happening appears to be opposite the strategy.

Eurocham, in one of its reports, said that the poor management of natural resources and destinations, and the lack of attractive tourism products and services may affect Vietnam’s competitive edge and hinder tourism growth in upcoming years.

Vietnam ranks 34th out of 136 countries in natural resources related to tourism in a WEF report. However, it ranks 113rd in tourism infrastructure.

The natural environment is at risk of degradation and the economic opportunities brought about by the natural environment are disappearing. The rapid development of coastal resorts is turning Vietnam into a mass tourist destination.

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