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Unexpected opportunities from the pandemic

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourists now love to go to unspoiled lands, isolated places such as quiet countryside, high mountains, and islands or beaches not yet exploited for tourism.

 

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Located amid a rice fields and beds of vegetables, a restaurant in Thoi Thuan Ward, Thot Not District, in Can Tho City has become a popular tourist attraction.

The diners are delighted by the rustic countryside scene with farmers busy working in the fields. The peace of the area helps visitors forget all stress and fatigue.

In Hoi An, there is also a coffee shop in the fields. This café is located on a small road with one front facing the street, the other three sides facing the green stretching out rice fields.

The cafe has a fairly large area with an open design, allowing visitors to zoom out, see the rice fields and lotus flowers in the lake or wander the spaces of Hoi An.

Since the pandemic, tourists have been interested inexperiences associated with nature such as the countryside, fields and rivers. Away from noisy and polluted urban areas close to nature, they enjoy agricultural products at farms or go to the forests.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourists now love to go to unspoiled lands, isolated places such as quiet countryside, high mountains, and islands or beaches not yet exploited for tourism.

These locations not only provide a place to rest but also peace of mind with less risk of disease.

According to UNWTO, tourism associated with health will grow strongly in the post-Covid-19 era. According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), this type of tourism could reach $919 billion in revenue in 2022.

Green tourism and rural experiences are forecast to grow strongly and become more prominent in the coming time. UNWTO believes that rural areas offer an opportunity to recover the tourism industry, as travelers are seeking new, unpopulated destinations to experience spaces and outdoor activities.

According to the United Nations, by 2050, 68% of the world's population will live in urban areas. This will lead to an increasing demand for experience tourism and interaction with local communities, indigenous cultures and products. Travelers expect a "green approach" to all travel experiences.

Growth opportunities

Since the early 1980s, rural tourism has been considered a type of tourism and is popular in most countries in Europe such as France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden... In Asia, successful models of rural tourism have existed in Japan, Korea, China, Thailand...

Located 70km from the capital Nairobi, Gatura Greens was the first tea farm in Kenya to provide sightseeing tours in 2018. But when the pandemic broke out, the number of visitors increased significantly.

Visitors come to learn how to grow and harvest purple tea, a specialty tea of Kenya. The guides at the farm introduce the history as well as information about this tea. In addition, visitors learn how to roast, cook tea and pack products to take home.

In Australia, during the two years of the pandemic, agritourism has boomed with some businesses seeing a 250% increase in revenue.

A report by the Australian Agency for Science and Industry released in 2018 estimated that agriculture-related tourism, including accommodation, transport and retail services, in Australia could reach about $13 billion by 2030.

Other studies conducted by Deloitte in 2017 showed that international tourists visiting a farm during their trips to Australia rose by 11% per year, while domestic tourists increased by 9%.

In China, many people in urban centers tend to look for rural areas, where there are many farms and orchards for enjoying a simple life amid the pandemic. According to statistics, in March 2021, rural tourism inChina increased by more than 300% year on year.

International agri-tourism consultant John Stanley said the recent period is an appropriate time for agritourism because many city residents want to experience activities in the countryside as they can't travel abroad due to the closure of national borders.

This is an opportunity for farms with small shops that want to find ways to increase added value and improve agricultural knowledge of visitors.

New trend

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Ngo Hoai Chung, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said from the perspective of tourism demand, the demand for relaxation, experience and health care is on the rise, and experiencing nature will replace resort services in closed hotels and resorts.

"The model of eco-resort tourism and healthcare combined with agricultural activities will attract tourists in the future. The demand for high-class services at resort farms will increase," Chung said.

According to a survey by Booking.com, travelers are better aware of their environmental impact as they explore the world. Its Sustainable Tourism Report 2021 found that 97% of Vietnamese tourists think sustainable tourism is extremely important, and 88% see the pandemic as a catalyst for them to pursue a more sustainable tourism trend in the future.

All Vietnamese respondents said that in the coming year they would like to stay at destinations that are committed to sustainable tourism. Understanding this trend, it is more appropriate than ever for Vietnam to focus on sustainability planning.

For many years, agro-tourism has brought dual benefits, promoting the construction of new rural areas, forming service economic bases in rural areas, providing livelihoods for farmers, and contributing to conservation, promotion of traditional cultural values and ecological landscapes, and in return support for diversified and sustainable development of tourist destinations. Developing tourism in rural areas brings spiritual and material values and community cohesion.

In fact, many attractive tours have become popular brands for domestic and foreign tourists, such as the river garden tour in the Mekong Delta, tour of the terraced fields in the ripe rice season, and the pouring water season in the northwest highlands...

There are nearly 400 points of agricultural and rural tourism activities across the country, most of which are being exploited under the model of community tourism. The provinces of Lao Cai, Son La, Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Ha Giang, Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue have many typical rural tourism products.

The tourism and agriculture sectors need to cooperate toward the goal of improving service quality and focusing on exploiting differences and creativity, based on the advantages of each locality, and at the same time preserve natural and cultural values.

Duy Anh

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