Vietnam develops festival tourism hinh anh 1
The Tuyen Citadel Festival has made Tuyen Quang province a tourism magnet during the mid-autumn festival. (Photo: VNA)

One example is the Tuyen Citadel Festival, renowned for its giant lanterns, which has made the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang a tourism magnet during the mid-autumn festival. The festival has set several Vietnam Guinness records for its gigantic lanterns.

Moving to the central region, Hue city of Thua Thien – Hue province, dubbed the city of festivals with more than 500 royal, traditional and religious ones, has successfully organised the Hue Festival and Traditional Craft Festival over years. The event has helped the locality capitalise on its cultural heritage to promote traditional values as well as popularise local images to the world.

Meanwhile, Da Nang city has cashed in on the International Fireworks Festival as the festival brand has been unceasingly consolidated. The city hosted over 63,000 tourist arrivals, including 19,000 foreigners at the final night of the 2023 event.

Vietnam’s leading tourist destination Hoi An ancient town in Quang Nam province had its Full Moon Festival recognised as a national intangible heritage item in September 2023. It’s a post-harvest festival during which people gather together in celebration of a bumper harvest by making cakes and offerings from farm produce, expressing thanks to Heaven for peace and abundant crops.

The Lion and Unicorn Dances are a focus of the festival on the main stage in the Hoai River Square and along the streets of the Old Quarter.

The festival is decorated by lanterns in the Old Quarter and candle-lit paper flowers released on the Hoai River on the 14th and 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It’s also a favourite rendezvous for local people and foreign tourists visiting and exploring the culture and lifestyle of Hoi An.

Festival tourism – a new trend to improve competitiveness

According to the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN welcomed some 143.5 million international visitors in 2019 – the time before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, with the growth rate of 6.1%, higher than the world’s average rate of 4%.

Reinventing tourism services to drive competitiveness is part of the bloc’s focus to bolster post-COVID-19 recovery for the tourism sector. The development of festival tourism is seen as an effective way to open up numerous opportunities for ASEAN, including Vietnam to sharpen competitive edge and promote sustainable growth.  

Vietnam develops festival tourism hinh anh 2
The Hue Festival has helped popularise local images to the world. (Photo: VNA)

Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism (VNAT) Ha Van Sieu said that festivals have been considered as an attractive tourism product that helps improve foreign tourist experiences and contributes to ASEAN’s tourism growth.

Festival tourism has been developed in Southeast Asia, with countries issuing policies to branch out sustainable tourism in tandem with cultural preservation, including the revival of traditional festivals.

Renowned festivals attract huge crowds of tourists such as Chol Chnam Thmay festival (Cambodia), Songkran and lantern flying festivals (Thailand), boat racing (Laos) and Bali art festival (Indonesia). Traditional art performances, folk games, and culinary festivals held within the festivals are unique features that make for attractive tourism products.

The ASEAN member states are working closely to develop festival tourism, including the capitalisation of digital technologies to popularise festival tourism offerings.

A digital marketing campaign will be rolled out, targeting at accessing 10 million potential tourists within a year, while digital content for regional festival tourism will be well prepared./.VNS