Discussion topics included strategies for developing satellite destinations, infrastructure planning, and policy formulation to mitigate the negative impacts of overcrowding on tourism experience and local communities.
The Symposium on “Overtourism at Major Destinations and Development of Satellites – Vietnam and Japan Working Towards Sustainable Tourism” took place at Melia Hotel Ha Noi, Vietnam.
The symposium was co-organized by the Institute of Tourism Development Research – ITDR (under the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism) and the Japan Transport and Tourism Research Institute – JTTRI on the occasion of 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam.
Speaking to welcome, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam Mr. Doan Van Viet shared that, “With a history of people-to-people exchanges and half a century of cooperation and development between the two countries since the official establishment of diplomatic relations, Vietnam and Japan have joined hands to cultivate an increasingly practical and effective friendship and cooperation relationship, based on the foundation of mutual cooperation, cultural similarities, strong historical bonds and high political trust.”
Currently, Japan is Vietnam’s leading economic, trade, investment, tourism, and labor partner. Cooperation between the two countries in all fields, especially in culture and tourism, is pushed strongly and achieved many positive results. Most recently, joining in this line of events, there have been many culture and tourism activities organized such as Vietnam – Japan Festival 2023, Culinary Cultural Space, Vietnam Pho Festival in Japan…
Deputy Minister Doan Van Viet said “Vietnam tourism has had a strong recovery after the serious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of the first 9 months of 2023, international visitors to Vietnam reached 8.9 million arrivals, including 414 thousand Japanese visitor arrivals, ranking 5th among the top international tourist source markets to Vietnam.”
However, along with the development of tourism, especially in localities and destinations with strong growth in international and domestic visitors, there is an overload of tourists. This situation has directly affected the experience of tourists, the quality of tourism products and services, and the environment; affected the management and operation of the destinations, quality of life of andlothe cal people.
The Deputy Minister expects Vietnamese and Japanese tourism experts to exchange and discuss related topics to come up with initiatives and practical solutions related to tackle overtourism attackling destinations and development of satellites.
According to Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan – Director of ITDR, the cause of overcrowding due to the boom in tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic, the seasonality of many destinations, limited infrastructure, lack of capacity planning at the destinations, lack of reasonable plans to regulate visitor, and lack of product diversity. Overtourism has a certain impact on the environment, culture, society, and infrastructure at the destinations as well as affects tourist psychology. These impacts cause a decline in experiential value, a decline in product and service quality, and a discrediting of the destination’s image.
Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan suggested that one of the solutions to tackle this problem is to develop satellite destinations to share the number of visitors at crowded tourist centers. However, difficulties and challenges still exist such as limited community awareness, lack of synchronous infrastructure connection, lack of orientation and strategy in product development, difficulties in mobilizing capital and the weakness of , localities connection.
Therefore, it is necessary to create mechanisms, policies, and a favorable investment environment; strengthen the link between the centers and satellite destinations; improve infrastructure; focus on environmental management; Identify customer markets before approving investment projects; develop a set of criteria and guide localities to build sustainable satellite destinations.
Representation of JNTO shared about the latest trend in inbound tourism and JNTO initiatives for sustainable tourism. Now, Japan tries to protect and nurture the regional environment and culture, and protect and develop the regional economy. Japan also implements measures against over-crowding, prevention and mitigation of manners violations caused by the concentration of tourists; promotion of attracting tourists to rural areas; and development of tourism in cooperation with residents.
The delegations listened to presentations from speakers in the Pannel Session on thePanelical development in Niseko (Hokkaido prefecture) and Sa Pa (Lao Cai province); the discussion of experienced experts in the field of tourism and travel on capacity management, planning, and sustainable tourism development plans.
Speaking to summarize the forum, VNAT’s Chairman Mr. Nguyen Trung Khanh said “Overtourism has been a challenge for the Japan and Vietnam tourism. Locals in major tourist areas have endured problems such as crowding, traffic congestion, garbage, and noise. Therefore, the tourism industry needs to consider the possibility of diversifying tourism destinations and experiences, seeing this as key to preventing overtourism while allowing the tourism industry to recover and develop sustainably.
In order to move towards sustainable tourism and solve the problem of overcrowding, the development of satellite destinations is necessary and certainly comes with planning and implementation management. To develop a satellite destination, it is necessary to determine the “core value” of the destination, which is the tourism resources that local people are proud of, the ability to connect traffic and form tourist destination routes. Focus on exploiting niche markets to develop markets in satellite destinations, creating a distinctive mark.”
Localities, especially in satellite areas, need to improve the quality of human resources, support the development of community tourism, develop tourism products, improve the quality of tourism services, and enhance and promote core tourism products.
At the end of the symposium, delegates witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ITDR and JTTRI.
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