Saigon Investment spoke with Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism to ask his opinion on how to develop attractive cultural tourism products that would enhance the glory of Ho Chi Minh City.
JOURNALIST: - Sir, how attractive or interesting should any cultural tourism product be to lure more tourists?
DEPUTY MINISTER: - Several cultural events have become particularly attractive for tourism and have potential of becoming interesting tourism brand products in certain areas such as the Da Nang International Fireworks Event, the Ha Long Carnival, the Hue Festival and the Nha Trang Sea Festival. These are already big-scale annual events that attract large numbers of domestic and international tourists. Although such events last for about a week only, organizers usually arrange for additional activities before and after such events to enable visitors to stay longer and have a better feel and understanding of such culturally rich events.
- On what grounds can we choose a cultural product or event that is able to promote the tourism sector of the country in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular?
- As I stressed before, first, it must attract large numbers of domestic as well as international tourists. For example, the Nha Trang Sea Festival has been held nine times since 2003, and it can be considered a very successful tourism product that has developed in strength year by year for the tourism sector in Khanh Hoa Province. When speaking with him, Mr Lê Văn Hoa, Deputy Director of the Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told me that the activities offered by the Nha Trang Sea Festival is for the locals as well as domestic and international tourists, who all seem to enjoy the festival equally. In this way, even a native resident becomes a tourist, a spectator and a tourism ambassador that helps promote the event as well as the brand name of the province.
Next, it is the continuity and regularity that alone creates interaction and a connection between locals and tourists. The local agencies and organizations strive to offer the best possible music and entertainment performances and both locals and tourists have expressed how much they have enjoyed them.
- You just mentioned the aspect of 'brand name' for a tourist city, so how can we build and promote a brand name for Ho Chi Minh City as a cultural and tourism destination?
- The number of cultural and tourism events is just a prerequisite, but it is not enough to just build a tourism brand name. Sometimes, it is very hard to promote the cultural sector and the tourism sector separately. They should support each other and develop simultaneously. Therefore, there must be mutual cooperation and support in the construction and development of a cultural and tourism brand name for Ho Chi Minh City, with media communication playing a significant role. At present, Ho Chi Minh City has several cultural and tourism events organized by different companies, individuals and government agencies. They are of high quality and have left a positive effect on the socio-economic growth of the City, but unfortunately, they have reached only a limited number of visitors, locals and tourists.
If cultural events are better scheduled, they could help reduce promotional costs and attract larger numbers of participants. People will have an increase of choices for different events and in this way tourist attractions and events will not overlap and tourists will have a wide range of activities to choose from.
- Sir, how can we promote cultural and tourism products effectively?
- These days’ multimedia and social networks provide certain advantages for us to promote tourism visually and quickly, but we should have appropriate plans and activities. As I mentioned earlier, we should avoid segmental promotional activities which could result in unnecessary competition and cause locals and tourists to miss many enjoyable events. A brand name for the tourism sector in Ho Chi Minh City should also be created and developed for different areas such as finance, banking, services and retail activities so that the local people and tourists can choose their favorite product based on their interest and available time.
When customers experience a good product or service, they enjoy it and are very likely to recommend it to their friends and relatives. If 8.5 million visitors to Ho Chi Minh City are satisfied with the products and services, we will have 8.5 million promotional channels that will be free of charge. Therefore, to promote via word of mouth, improve quality of products and services, and offer interesting activities to tourists, we will see a surge in tourism. Also, to be successful, the tourism sector must focus more on detailed planning and service behavior. I believe that lots of cultural and tourism products have good content to attract visitors, but we just need to improve service behavior and approach towards tourists, then we will see greater response from tourists.
- Thank you very much!