At a recent forum in Ho Chi Minh City, Peter Semone, chair of the
Pacific Asia Travel Association, declared that tourism has the potential to
become a pillar of the Vietnam economy.
Mr. Semone said that with its wealth of exceptional plant and animal life,
legendary scenic landscapes and its mosaic of cultural heritage, tourism could
serve as a catalyst for the country’s economic growth.
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Responsible tourism development, he underscored implies a proactive approach by
the companies in the tourism segment towards the environment, through the
promotion of balanced sustainable tourism.
If the segment is to become the country’s passport to prosperity and a
transformative force for improving the lives of millions it must be underpinned
by sustainable environmental practices.
He emphasized that tourism development in Vietnam would never happen in the
absence of responsible tourism and— unless the country can harness its abhorrent
environmental pollution problems.
In line with this sentiment, he suggested that Vietnam could benefit greatly
from the experience of Copenhagen, Denmark and learn from them the best
practices to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the effort to create a
tourism friendly environment.
Improving local economies
Other speakers at the forum, noted that responsible travel companies in the
segment are now beginning to work on growing the local economic benefits that
tourism can bring to an area.
Established companies such as Saigontourist, Vietravel and Exotissimo are
expanding their value-added services to tourists by encouraging and assisting
smaller local business owners develop complimentary products and helping them
link with others in the segment.
Saigontourist has, for example, assisted local companies develop responsible
tourism products that have helped them generate income. As one notable example,
Saigontourist has provided visitors to local villages with tours of local
handicraft establishments, which has helped them increase sales.
Saigontourist has also begun helping local villages properly plan implement and
manage their tourism development processes in line with market demands, which is
helping them gain from higher employment and earnings.
The tourism industry greatly impacts the country’s environment. All those
involved in responsible tourism in Vietnam must protect the authenticity of
every travel destination and social structure.
Here again, Saigontourist has taken the lead in assisting local tourism business
owners. One simple method the company has employed is in teaching business
owners how to recycle the water used for bathing by using it for flower or
vegetable gardens, lawns among other things.
This kind of activity shows resourcefulness by Saigontourist, a characteristic
that contributes to effective management of costs and increased revenue for
local tourism owners.
Speakers at the forum noted that if more companies followed the lead of
Saigontourist, Vietravel and Exotissimo the tourism industry would go a long way
in achieving the goals to improve its contribution substantially to the
country’s GDP and help to alleviate unemployment in the country.
The tourism industry has the power to accomplish all of its long-term goals for
sustainability, but it will require a concerted unified effort by all within
this industry to achieve them.