A series of sea tourism festivals have been opened in many provinces and cities to welcome tourists this summer. However, experts say festivals just try to attract more travelers while local authorities have not paid attention to developing tourism in a sustainable way.
Hundreds of flowers in the bloom
In order to stimulate the demand and attract more travelers, local authorities have been rushing to organize sea tourism campaigns, from culture-tourism weeks to sea festivals.
In fact, this is not a new idea at all since regional countries, especially Thailand have always been considering the organizing of tourism festivals as the opportunities to introduce new tourism products. With the professional organization, Thai can turn festivals into a kind of tourism specialty which can show the specific characteristics of the regions. With festivals, Thailand has greatly succeeded in attracting foreign travelers.
However, Vietnam is quite another case. Duc Tho, a Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese), who has returned from the UK to join the trip throughout the country, said that with so many beautiful and romantic beaches, Vietnam should have great potentials to develop sea tourism. However, in fact, travelers complain that the unprofessional organization of festivals has made the events similar and dim which do not show the special characteristics of different regions
Though being considered a special sea festival in the north, "Carnival Ha Long" looked like a "street demonstration" rather than creating special impressions which can persuade foreigners to return to Vietnam.
"Instead of joining the carnival and enjoying the festival atmosphere like the carnivals organized in South American countries, the visitors just could stand at the roadside to watch the event," Tho noted.
The annually held fireworks festival in Da Nang is considered one of the rare successful festivals, because it can attract domestic and foreign tourists. However, the 2011's festival could attract only 2500 foreign travelers, while the number of domestic travelers was much higher, about 12,900.
When asked why sea festivals in Vietnam still cannot be attractive in the eyes of foreigners, Nguyen Cong Hoan, Deputy Director of Hanoi Redtour, a travel firm, said that Vietnam invites foreigners to Vietnam, but it does not offer attractive activities. While the festivals' performance is not really attractive, travelers have nowhere to go except having sea bathing, and they have nothing to buy except seafood.
Especially, Hoan said Vietnam seriously lacks high grade accommodation services for travelers to stay. Most of luxury hotel room rates at festival localities are booked for VIP guests, artists, or sponsors.
Local newspapers have reported that a lot of restaurants have been mushrooming at Do Son Beach in Hai Phong City. However, in fact, there is only a few of restaurants capable enough to serve the groups of foreign tourists with more than 50 guests.
Meanwhile, travel firms complain that they cannot find 5-star hotels in Hai Phong, which is the main reason that explains why foreign high grade tourists do not want to stay.
At Cua Lo Beach in Nghe An, it is also very difficult to find 5-star hotels, therefore, this is not the destination of luxurious tourists.
Festivals not attractive to foreigners, why?
According to experts, in order to develop tourism, it is necessary to set up good material facilities and provide diversified tourism products, and then try to attract tourists with festivals and campaigns. Meanwhile, Vietnam is following a wrong way up: it tries to organize festivals to attract tourists, but it has nothing to entertain guests.
Hoan agrees that while Vietnam hopes to attract foreigners with festivals, the majority of them are not really interested in festivals. It is because festivals in Vietnam are always too crowded, while traffic jam occurs. Especially, at many festivals, tourists see modern culture instead of traditional cultural features, the things they expect to find in Vietnam.
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