Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Vietnam - Finding a way to develop special tourism services in Vietnam

Specialised tourism trends like medical tourism, literature, travel, and film studio travel have existed a long time, but in Vietnam they are still in their infancy.

Medical tourism

Each year about 100,000 foreigners go to Vietnam for medical treatment, contributing more than $1 billion of revenues to local hospitals. At the same time, according to the Ministry of Health, Vietnamese people spent over $2 billion for medical treatment abroad. Most tourists of this kind design tours for themselves, not using services of travel agents.

Nguyen Dinh Anh, Director of the Communications Department of the Ministry of Health, for foreign patients, the advantages of Vietnamese hospitals is low cost. Some local hospitals offer hi-tech services at reasonable prices and they are famous for some kinds of treatments such as thoracic vascular diseases, IVF, dentistry....

The two most well-known hospitals among foreign patients are the Medical University Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City and Hue Central Hospital. Asked about the mechanism for medical tourism, Dinh Anh affirmed that the Ministry of Health does not license this service. The majority of foreign visitors contacted local hospitals themselves.

Asking domestic tourists about the concept of "medical tourism", most of them could not clearly define it. Some saw the service like bathing with herbs of Dao ethnic minority in some northern mountainous provinces and mud baths in Nha Trang as “medical tourism”.

Actually, the twoservices are the only part of tours in Vietnam that are related to “healthcare”. Other forms, from massage to acupuncture to organ transplants, are not included in official tours in the country. Foreign tourists have to search for the services on the Internet.

Lack of specific mechanisms for medical tourism has prevented travel firms from developing this kind of tourism in Vietnam.

Gay tourism

In the past few recent Vietnamese have been more open-minded but homosexuals still have to hide their sexual orientation. According to the study on specialized tourism products for the community of lesbians, gays, bixesual and transgenders (LGBT) in Vietnam by the Faculty of Tourism of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, 75% of respondents said they chose the form of making their own tours because they were afraid of stigma when purchasing tours and traveling in group.

Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, Da Nang, and Nha Trang are the choices of the majority of domestic tourists. Thailand is currently the most ideal paradise of the LGBT in Vietnam. They chose Thailand for low airfares and low costs and professional services. The average spending for one traveler for a three-day tour to Thailand is only $300-$500.

Nguyen Thu Thuy, a member of the study group, said there is a term for profits from tourism services for the LGBT - "pink-money".

According to statistics in 2013, Vietnam had about 1.65 million people in the LGBT community in the age group of 15-59. If local travel firms design tours and services for them, they can earn huge revenues.

Literary travel

"Vu Dai Village in the old days" is the first literary tourism tour in Vietnam. It was offered by Khat Vong Viet Travel Company in late 2014 in Hoa Hau commune, Ly Nhan district in Ha Nam province, the hometown of well-known writer Nam Cao, the author of “Vu Dai Village in the old days”, a famous literary work in Vietnam.

With the cost of only VND300,000 ($27)/person, the tour helps visitors return to the northern countryside of Vietnam in the late 18th century to experience the characters and events in literary works by writer Nam Cao such as Chi Pheo, Thi No, Ba Kien, ...

Nguyen Ba Toan, director of Khat Vong Viet said the tour sold well and tourists were interested in living one day as Chi Pheo-Thi No, the famous couple in Vietnam literature and to participate in processing the Vu Dai’s famous specialty – ca kho (braised fish).

Dr. Nguyen Thu Hanh, President of the Union of Science for Tourism Development, said the literary treasures of Vietnam were an abundant resource of tourism. The union is planning to implement some literature-based such as the tour to the hometown of poet Nguyen Khuyen in Ha Nam Province, the tour to the hometown of great poet Nguyen Du in Ha Tinh province and to the hometown of poet Han Mac Tu in Binh Dinh province.

Studio tours

After the film "I saw the yellow flowers on the green grass" was released last year, the number of tourists to the central province of Phu Yen where the movie was shot soaredby 20-40%.

Similarly, after the Hollywood film crew shot some scenes of the Kong: Skull Island in the central province of Quang Binh earlier this year, the provincial authorities said they would retain the studios at Yen Phu Lake and Chuot Cave to serve tourism.

Mr. Vuong Duy Bien, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism also stated that the Ministry would create favorable conditions to welcome foreign film crews to Vietnam for filming.

In mid-2014, Quang Ninh province carried out the Yen Tu studio project, the largest studio for filming movies with the ancient background, which is expected to become a cultural and historical park of Vietnam and a destination for tourists to learn about Vietnamese culture.

This project will be completed in more than 1 year. However, its contribution to the tourism industry is still a big question mark because the failure of the Co Loa studio in Dong Anh district, Hanoi is an expensive lesson.

Built at the cost of VND108 billion ($5 million), this studio is now in ruins after only one year of operation.

Tien Phong

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