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.
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.
Ifthe 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.