Tourism economy in the north central region in international economic integration

Tourism economy plays an important role in the socio-economic life and an important position in the national cause of industrialisation and modernisation. The development of tourism economy does not only aim at exploiting the country’s available potentials but also is a pressing demand to integrate our economy into the world economy in the development process. The North Central provinces make an overriding important position in Vietnam’s Tourism Economy Development Strategy. This is a region with typical and diverse tourism resources, allowing the rapid development of distinctive tourism products related to relaxation, sea and island tourism, cultural and historical tourism, heritage tourism, caravan tourism, MICE, and coastal cuisine tourism. Although the national and international circumstances have gone through numerous changes, difficulties and challenges since 2000, tourism economy in the North Centralprovinces still records a profound growth. However, the development of tourism economy remains far from the region’s potential, quality of tourism services remains poor. Advantages and strengths to develop the North Central provinces’ tourism economy must be brought into full play whilst shortcomings and weaknesses need to be addressed, this has surpassed the management capacity and resources of the region. That’s why, the incorporation to mobilise resources and implement mutual action programmes of the region has been a decisive factor to promoting the development of tourism economy in the North Centralprovinces.

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ent. 3) The authors analyse, specify tourism products, tourism product mechanism, the role of components of tourism products, the role of tourism economy to the socio-economic development of the nation and regions in regards to component factors of tourism supply and demand. 4) The reality of tourism market in some cities and provinces in Vietnam. 5) Numerous solutions to diversify and increase the quality of tourism products in some provinces in Vietnam. Nevertheless, in regards to theory, published scientific researches have not specified concepts of tourism economy from the perspective of political economics, and typical features of tourism economy; have not analysed systematically components of tourism economy, the relation between tourism economy and socio- economic development, and factors influencing tourism economy in the international economic integration. The researches have not analysed to the full opportunities and challenges of the international economic integration to Vietnam’s tourism economy in general and to the North Central region’s tourism economy in particular. Regarding practical approach, the researches have not mentioned to the full and comprehensively the reality of tourism economy in the North Central region. The authors have not analysed comprehensively the new economic context of tourism economy in the North Central provinces in the international economic integration. Also, the authors have not presented systematically targets, orientations, and solutions to develop tourism economy in the North Central provinces in the context of international economic integration. In order to help with addressing the problem, the subject: “Tourism Economy in the North Central Provinces in International Economic Integration” that the postgraduate has chosen to study is new, and of theoretical and practical significance. 51.3.2. Issues raised for further study: 1) Specifying theories of tourism economy and tourism economy development in the new context of national and international situations, and international economic integration from the perspective of political economics. 2) Studying lessons of success and unsuccessfulness from nations world- wide on the current tourism economy development in the international economic integration to draw valuable lessons of experience for Vietnam in general and for the North Central region in particular to learn from. 3) Specifying the reality of tourism economy in the North Central provinces and indicate strengths and limitations in the development process of this economic sector to propose objectives, orientations, and solutions to accelerate development in the time to come. Chapter 2 THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL GROUNDS OF TOURISM ECONOMY IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION 2.1 TOURISM ECONOMY AND COMPONENTS OF TOURISM ECONOMY 2.1.1 Tourism and tourism economy 2.1.1.1 Tourism  Conception From the perspective of political economics, and views it as the general of phenomena and economic relations which arise from the mutual influences between tourists, tourism businesspeople, local authorities, and local community in the process of attracting and retain tourists. Tourism is an activity of many specific characteristics with many participating components, thus, making itself a very complicated general. Tourism operation bears both characteristics of an economic sector, and of an economic-social sector.  Tourism product and its typical features Tourism products are “services and commodities provided to tourists are produced through the combination of exploiting natural and social factors with material and technical facilities as well as labour forces in an establishment, a region or a country. Characteristics of tourism products: Apart from common features of ordinary commodities, tourism products are characterised by special features as followed: Firstly, once an ordinary commodity is sold to a buyer its values will vanish slowly or even be lost after the first use, whilst the values of tourism products are not. The tourism products’ values will exist in the feelings and evaluations of tourists and the values can even be acknowledged through the tourists’ words of mouth. Secondly, the consumption of tourism products does not occur regularly but during certain time in a day (in regards to products offered at a restaurant), in a week (in regards to products 6offered at the year-end tourism season), during a year (in regards to products of some tourism categories: mountain tourism, and beach tourism, etc...). It is the very these characteristics that tourism is a highly seasonal operation. In facts, in the tourism product mechanism, tourism services make up a considerable percentage (about 80-90%), therefore, it is extremely important to find out about and properly assess characteristics of tourism products.  Tourism service and its typical features Tourism service is “the supply of services on travel, transport, accommodation, food and beverage, amusement, recreation, information, guidance, and other services to meet the demands of tourists. Tourism is a type of services which contains common features of services and typical features of its own: the intangibility of services, the synchronism of tourism service production and consumption, the involvement of tourists in the production of services, the immovability of tourism services, the ownership unchangability of tourism services, and the unequability of the quality.  Types of tourism Depending on different modes of classification, tourism can be classified as follows: 1) In regard to territorial scope of travel, tourism is divided into international and domestic tourism. 2) In regard to tourists’ demands, tourism can be: medical tourism, recreational and relaxation tourism, excursions tourism, sports tourism, MICE (meetings, incentives, conference, and exhibitions), and spiritual tourism, etc. 3) In regard to geographical position of the destination: mountain tourism, beach tourism, river tourism, lake tourism, city tourism, and countryside tourism. 4) In regard to means of transport facilitating tourists’ travel: tourism by bicycle, motorbikes, automobiles, train, and airplane. 5) In regard to the tour organisation, tourism is divided into group and individual tourism. 6) In regard to the length of tourists’ travel, tourism is divided into short-day and long-day tourism, etc. 2.1.1.2. Tourism economy Tourism economy is an economic relation in the field of tourism product supply and consists of relations among travel business, tourism lodging service business, tourism transport business, tourism area and tourism spot development, and other tourism services business in order to satisfy the spiritual demand of tourists and bring bout significant social, economic and political benefits for the tourism enterprises and the country. Tourism economy is a non-smoke industry and a nonmaterial production area but brings about huge material and spiritual values. Tourism economy is a service industry with typical characteristics: being sensitive, highly synthetic, multidisciplinary, multi-sector, expenditure-oriented, interregional and seasonal. On the basis of the objectives of tourism businesses in the 7world in general and the Law of Tourism in Vietnam in particular, indicators to evaluate tourism economy may include: tourists, earnings from tourists, tourism industry’s gross products, and tourism economy effects, etc. 2.1.2. Tourism economy components Tourism economy is a synthetic industry consisting of relations between such major sectors and businesses as follows: 2.1.2.1. Travel business In fact, related to the travel business, tourism experts often mention major operations as “trading and signing business contracts with internal and external tourism business organisations to build and implement tours which have been sold to tourists”. However, the fact indicates that the travel business mainly involves the two popular operations: travel business and travel agency business. 2.1.2.2. The business of tourism accommodation Accommodation establishments are those who rent out bedrooms to tourists and provide other services to satisfy tourists’ demands during their stay, in which hotel is the most popular type of lodging. Accommodation business is one of important sectors contributing considerable income for tourism economy. 2.1.2.3. The business of tourist transportation The business of tourist transport is an operation enabling tourists to move from their living place to a tourism site as well as to move within the tourism site. There is a number of means of transport available to serve this business, namely automobiles, train, ships, and airplane. 2.1.2.4. The business of tourism area and tourism site development The business of tourism area and tourism site development takes into account: the investment to preserve and upgrade available tourism resources; tapping the full potential of available tourism resources for development new tourism area and site; and building tourism infrastructure, and material and technical facilities. 2.1.2.5. The business of other tourism services Apart from business operations mentioned above, tourism economy components also include the business of recreational activities, advertisement, promotion, and tourism investment consultancy, etc. 2.2. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TOURISM ECONOMY AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND FACTOS AFFECTING TOURISM ECONOMY IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION 2.2.1. The relationship between tourism economy and socio-economic development 2.2.1.1. The influence of tourism economy on socio-economic development: 1) The development of tourism economy contributes to enhancing the economic growth; 2) Tourism economy develops will advance the transition of the national 8economic structure; 3) The development of tourism economy contributes to boosting domestic and foreign investment, which eventually increases the whole economy’s total demand; 4) The development of tourism economy contributes to promoting and developing other economic relationships including the relations in investment co- operation, production co-operation, trading, and services between economic subjects and components; 5) The development of tourism economy increases social employment and income; 6) The attraction and expansion of international tourists, the development of tourism economy will be a vital information channel to promote the host country’s images. 2.2.1.2. The socio-economic impacts on the development of tourism economy: The development of economic sectors like industry, agriculture and handicrafts, etc will help improve the society’s material-technical facilities, contributing to enhancing the quality of services in the chain of tourism services. The development of social sectors such as culture, education, and health, etc will promote the attractiveness, and competitiveness of destination brands for tourism economy. Other sectors including telecommunications, electronics, traffic and transport, etc develop will help promote tourism brand names, introduce tourism products, and connect tours for tourism economy. Other service sectors including finance, banking, securities and insurance, etc, if well-developed, will be a major supporting force for the development of tourism economy. Thus, the general socio-economic development will help enhance the infrastructure, intellectual standards of people, and convenient services, etc, speeding up the development of tourism economy. 2.2.2. Factors affecting tourism economy in the international economic integration 2.2.2.1. The State role in tourism economy development * The State creates the socio-economic and political environment. Political environment is presented first and foremost through the nation’s system of legislation, policy and institution. A peaceful and stable politics will be an important premise for the country’s development in general and the development of tourism economy in particular. The socio-economic environment of tourism economy is presented through the development level of sectors and the labour output of the home country. Tourism economy is a synthetic industry, thus, it can only develop when other industries develop. * The State maps out development strategy and planning for tourism economy. Tourism economy development strategy is a component of the State and Party’s socio-economic development strategies. It is a tool to provide a long-term vision of the performance of tourism economy in a particular period of time. 9Tourism planning is a collection of theoretical and practical foundations to be involved in collective or separate tourism sites associated with the investment and production process. If tourism planning is done well, this will help increase tourism benefits and minimise negative effects that tourism economy may have on local communities and enterprises. 2.2.2.2. Potentials of resources for tourism economy development The potentials of resources for the development of tourism economy includes tourism resources, financial resources, and human resources for tourism performance. Tourism resources are essential to the scale, quality and the uniqueness of tourism products. The richer and more diverse tourism resources are, the more they absorb tourists both internally and externally. Human resources for tourism: If a nation or an enterprise builds up a high- quality human resource, this is an essential factor to create tourism products of high quality, promoting the competitiveness of the tourism destination in general and of each enterprise in particular. Capital resource is of significant influence on the development of tourism economy. Tourism economy is competitive and appealing to tourists or not, largely depending on the modernity of material and infrastructure facilities and tourism accommodation establishments. The modernity of material and infrastructure facilities and tourism accommodation establishments completely relies on the scale and efficient usage of investment capital. 2.2.2.3. The scale and quality of suppliers of tourism products and services The quantity, scale and quality of suppliers of tourism products and services have an important affect on the development of tourism economy. If tourism enterprises provide products and services seasonal, suitable to tourist tastes with a competitive price will certainly appeal to tourists and be able to keep them stay longer. In addition, if tourism enterprises co-exist and develop will create a fair competition to promote the quality of services. 2.2.2.4. International economic integration and its impacts on tourism economy - International economic integration is a process nations initiatively connect their own economy with the regional and international economies through efforts to liberalise the economy and mitigate the difference to become an integrated part of the global economy. - International economic integration creates both opportunities for a nation to develop tourism economy and challenges in the development process. + Opportunities: i, opportunity to increase international tourism share; ii, opportunity to reform; iii, opportunity to expand the market and develop new forms of tourism; iv, new competition opportunities for tourism economy in countries all over the world; v, opportunity to build an efficient supporting policy system, etc. 10 + Challenges: i, to conserve traditional cultural values; ii, to increase environmental pressure; and iii, fiercer competition, etc 2.3. FOREIGN EXPERIENCE IN TOURISM ECONOMY DEVELOPMENT THAT VIETNAM IN GENERAL AND THE NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCES IN PARTICULAR CAN LEARN FROM 2.3.1. The State pays attention to developing tourism economy, regarding it as a non-smoke industry: i, the role of tourism economy in socio-economic development policy should be seriously considered; ii, a country should have national policies for the development of tourism economy and highly regard tourism economy strategies. 2.3.2. Experience in programming tourism promotion and marketing activities: i, well implement strategies of marketing and promoting products and destinations; ii, attach much importance to investment for tourism promotion strategies. 2.3.3. Experience in training human resources for tourism economy: i, attaching much importance to foster and use tourism human resources; ii, paying due attention to training professional tour guides. 2.3.4. Construct and diversify tourism products: i, bringing into full play cultural values, faiths, and other attractions in constructing tourism products; ii, attaching much importance to enhancing the competitiveness of tourism products; iii, establishing and developing tourism products are prioritised in the tourism economy development strategy; iv, attaching much importance to supplying supportive services for tourism economy; v, experience of an excellent tourism operator, etc. 2.3.5. Experience from association and co-operation in tourism economy development: Those with a developed tourism industry like Singapore and Thailand, etc have associated and co-operated with each other for many years. They work together to link tours and to produce typical and special tourism products for each nation, lower tour price and create a level competitive price, etc to attract international tourists. 2.3.6. Experience of visa waiver for tourists, creating a stable political environment, ensuring security and safety of tourists: Visa waiver for tourists is a strategic policy to attract international tourists. On the other hand, political stability, peace and clean ecological environment are ideal conditions for tourist attraction. These experiences are precious lessons for not only Vietnam but also the North Central provinces, which they should and need to learn from for the development of tourism economy in the international economic integration. Nevertheless, Vietnam in general and the North Central provinces in particular should pay attention to special characteristics of their own to put forward proper development policies to bring about the desired effects for tourism economy. 11 Chapter 3 REAL SITUATION OF THE TOURISM ECONOMY IN THE NORTH CENTRAL REGION IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION 3.1. IMPACTS OF NATURAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR TOURISM ECONOMY 3.1.1. Natural and socio-economic conditions in the North Central provinces 3.1.1.1. Natural conditions The North Central Region is narrow, in terms of its horizontal line. The region is located between the Tam Diep mountain range in the North and the Bach Ma mountain range in the South which is the natural border between the region and the Costal South Central Region. The region, consisting of six provinces, namely Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue, is 52,534.2 square kilometres in area. To the West, the region is bordered by the Truong Son mountain range, while to the North it borders the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Vietnam’s North-West Region and the Red River Delta are also on the North of the region. To the South, it borders the Costal South Central Region, while the East Sea is on the East of the region. The region is rather rich of natural tourism resources as well as humanity tourism resources, favourable for tourism economy development. 3.1.1.2. Socio-economic conditions With a population of approximately 16,556,700 people, there have been positive changes in the region’s socio-economic development in recent years. All achievements have been made in the field of socio-economy, national defence and public security. As a result of market-oriented adjustments of economic structure, private and foreign invested sectors represented a higher ratio while that of state-own (at both central and local levels) and collective sectors was lower. In addition to the adjustments of economic structure, labour force structure has been reformed accordingly. 3.1.2. Advantages and limitations from natural and socio-economic conditions for development of tourism economy in the North Central provinces 3.1.2.1. Advantages The North Central region has a rich and diversified tourism potential representatives of which are 6 world heritage sites, recognised by the UNESCO, namely ancient imperial city of Hue, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, the Royal Refined Music of Hue, Ho Dynasty Citadel. In addition, the woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty are also recognised by UNESCO as a “World Documentary Heritage”. 3.1.2.2. Limitations and disadvantages Apart from above-mentioned advantages, the North Central region’s tourism economy, with the tendency of international economic integration, is facing lots of 12 difficulties and obstacles as following: The North Central region is located in an area most directly affected by natural disasters as storms, floods, hot and dry winds. Although the GDP per capita in the region has been increased, but still lower than that of the nation. In the process of transition to a market economy, there were not enough skilled and experienced workers, etc. This certainly poses challenges for the tourism economy development in the region. 3.2. REAL SITUATION OF THE TOURISM ECONOMY IN THE NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCES IN THE FRAMEWORK OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION SINCE 2000 UNTIL PRESENT DAY 3.2.1. Real situation of travel business At present, in association with investment projects for socio-economic development in their respective provinces, domestic travel agents operating in Ha Tinh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien - Hue have done market reach in Northeast Asia. As a result, the number of foreign tourists increased.. In the mean time, some agents became more dynamic in doing business, thus drawing more tourists from Northeast Thailand and South Laos (with caravan type) through Lao Bao and Cau Treo border gates. The North Central provinces saw a rising number of domestic and international visitors in recent years. Proportions of tourists have positively changed in favour of the region’s tourism economy. It is shown in the following figures: + International arrivals in the North Central region Figure 3.1 : The number of international arrivals in the North Central region (2000 - 2011) Unit: A thousand visitors Source: Data: Institute for Tourism Development Research Conducted by: PhD candidate 13 Table 3.3: International arrivals to the North Central region in comparison with other regions in the country (2000 - 2011) Source: Institute for Tourism Development Research. + Domestic arrivals to the North Central region Figure 3.4: The number of domestic arrivals to the North Central region (2000 - 2011) Unit: A thousand tourists Source: Data: Institute for Tourism Development Research. Conducted by: PhD candidate 14 Figure 3.5: Domestic arrivals to the North Central region in comparison with other regions (2000 - 2011) Unit:a thousand tourists Source : Institute for Tourism Development Research. 3.2.2. Reality of tourism business in accommodation In terms of quantity, in 2000, the total number of accommodation establishments in the region stood at 421, offering 9,337 already rooms to serve tourists. In 2005, the figure was more than two folds at 882 units with 19,668 rooms. In 2011, the sum reached 1,915 with 39,145 rooms, four times more than the 2000 figure. Regarding quality, accommodation has seen improvement in accordance with the growth in number, which is presented through the following tables: Table 3.2: Quality of accommodation establishments in the North Central region (2009 – 2011) 2009 2010 2011 Rank Number of Accommodation establishments Number of rooms Number of Accommodation establishments Number of rooms Number of Accommodation Establishments Number of rooms 1 star 78 5.1% 2,769 8.6% 86 5.4% 2,769 8.1% 127 6.6% 2,736 7.0% 2 stars 80 5.2% 3,883 12.1% 83 5.2% 3,883 11.3% 101 5.3% 4,178 10.7% 3 stars 17 1.1% 1,318 4.1% 27 1.7% 2,003 5.8% 29 1.5% 2,161 5.5% 4 stars 10 0.7% 1,308 4.1% 13 0.8% 1,787 5.2% 16 0.8% 2,227 5.7% 5 stars 3 0.2% 423 1.3% 4 0.3% 655 1.9% 4 0.2% 648 1.7% Total 1,525 100% 32,188 100% 1,587 100% 34,251 100% 1,915 100% 39,145 100% Source: Institute for Tourism Development Research. 15 3.2.3. Reality of business in tourist transportation In recent years, especially since 2000, along with the national course of renovation, services for tourist transportation nationwide in general and in the northern central provinces in particular have shown positive development. Means of transport for tourism have evolved into diverse range of types, quality and quantity: aviation transport, land transport, rail transport and water transport. 3.2.4. Reality of the development of tourism zones, destination and products - Tourism activities in the northern central provinces are devided into four groups with respective tourism products including : (i), sea resorts mainly found in Sam Son, Cua Lo, Thien Cam, Lang Co, Dong Hoi ; (ii), heritage tourism : the ancient citadel of Hue ; (iii), ecotourism : Phong Nha-Ke Bang ; (iv), historical site tourism : Kim Lien – Nam Dan, Quang Tri Citadel, Truong Son national cemetary, Vinh Moc underground tunnels, Dong Loc intersection. - Reality of tourism products in the northern central provinces on offerings: Table 3.3: The production of tourism products in the North Central provinces from 2000 to present Province Major products Subsidiary products Thanh Hoa - Beach tourism: Sam Son beach - Cultural tourism: tours to learn about culture and history at Ho Citadel , Lam Kinh relic, Ham Rong cultural relic, Tu Thuc Cave – Mai An Tiem Temple, Cam Luong spring - Ecotourism: tours to visit and learn about the ecosystem of the Ben En National Park, Pu Luong Nature Reserve. - Tours to Na Meo international border gate. - Traditional festivals: Lam Kinh Festival, Ba Trieu Festival, Na Palace Festival, Song Temple Festival, Mai An Tiem Temple Festival. - Tour to Dong Son cultural relics. Nghe An - Beach tourism: Cua Lo and Hon Me beaches, etc - Cultural tourism: tours to learn about culture and history at Kim Lien – Nam Dan relic complex; - Ecotourism: tours to learn about the ecosystem at Pu Mat National Park; - Tours to Nam Can international border gate. - Cuong Temple Festival; - Tours to coastal islands; - Travel by boat on Lam River. Ha Tinh - Beach tourism: Thien Cam beach - Cultural tourism: + Tours to Nguyen Du National Relic; + Culture and education tours to Dong Luc - Ecotourism: Vu Quang National Park, Ke Go Lake; - Tours to shrines 16 Province Major products Subsidiary products Junction; + Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival; - Tours to visit, shop and transit at Cau Treo international border gate. worshiping Tran Phu and Ha Huy Tap (former general secretaries of the Communist Party of Vietnam), and Ha Tinh City’s relic complex; - Tours to visit craft villages: Thai Yen carpentry, Trung Luong forging village; - Mountain climbing: Hong Mountain Quang Binh - Ecotourism: Phong Nha – Ke bang caves; - Beach tourism: Nhat Le and Da Nhay beaches; - Cultural tourism: tours to visit Dong Hoi City’s historical relics; - Tours to visit and transit at Cha Lo international border gate. - Traditional festivals: boat racing festival, Lunar March Full Moon festival; - Beach sports activities; - Relaxation and medical tourism at Bang hot spring; - Ecotourism at Mooc Spring. Quang Tri Cultural tourism: tours to visit, study historical and revolutionary relics, spiritual education at a system of relics associated with the American war. Beach tourism: Cua Tung and Cua Viet beaches; Tours to visit, shop and transit at Lao Bao international border gate; Ecotourism: tours to learn about the ecosystem at Con Co Island. - Shopping - Cuisine Thua Thien – Hue Cultural tourism: + Tours to visit and study cultural heritage sites (the Hue Complex of Monuments, The Royal Court Music); + Spiritual tourism; + Cuisine. Beach tourism: Lang Co and Canh Duong beaches; MICE; - Ecotourism: Bach Ma National Park, Tam Giang Lagoon. - Boat tours on Huong River; - Medical tourism at My An mineral water and mud bath; - Tours to visit craft villages; - Ecotourism at house gardens. Source: Institute for Tourism Development Research. 17 3.2.5. Reality of relations between tourism economy and other sectors Relation between tourism economy and cultural sector; ii, Relation between tourism economy and forestry industry; iii, Relation between tourism economy and transport sector; iv, Relation between tourism economy and irrigation and aquaculture; v, Relation between tourism economy and industry in terms of exploiting minerals and construction materials. 3.3. ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION OF TOURISM ECONOMY OF THE NORTHERN CENTRAL PROVINCES IN THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION FROM 2000 TO PRESENT 3.3.1. Achievements gained from tourism economy in the northern central provinces in all areas: Firstly, significant increase in income generated from tourists. Secondly, there has been a shift in the structure of total earnings from tourists in the overall map of earnings in the North Central provinces. Thirdly, structure of total earnings from tourists by economic sector has also undergone changes in a positive manner. Fourthly, increasingly attracting labour to accommodation establishments. Fifthly, increased investment into the development of tourism economy. Sixthly, the tourism economy has contributed to the socio-economic development of the northern central provinces. 3.3.2. Shortcomings: Firstly, regarding the market, although there have been many changes in the market structure of tourists; the northern central provinces have failed to appeal those from the high-end markets. The proportion of tourists remains unchanged and tends to be long stayed and scale of expenditure by tourists is still low. Secondly, tourism products in the region are lack of uniqueness and high competitiveness. Thirdly, the economic structure has been shifted in the positive direction but the speed is still slow, falling short of desire. Fourthly, the operation of travel agencies in the Northern central provinces is sparse, unprofessional coupled with ineffective performance and weakness in competitiveness and reaching out foreign markets. Fifthly, the capacity of international tourism integration is limited. 3.3.3. Reasons for shortcomings - Subjective reasons: 1) The tourism economy in the northern central provinces faces fierce competition against other players. 2) Tourism resources are scattered sparsely. 3) The infrastructure in the northern central provinces is not synchronized. 4) System of accommodation establishments is small scaled and inconvenient. 5) Tourism economy in the northern central provinces is under impacts of the climate change. - Objective reasons: 1) The scale of quality of communications and promotion campaigns for tourism are poor. 2) Capacity of human resources for tourism economy 18 in the northern central provinces is inadequate while the structure is unsound. 3) Management capacity in the tourism economy is incapable, failing to reach the demand. 4) Investment into the tourism economy is still inappropriate. 5) The importance of international cooperation in tourism business is underestimated. 6) Tourism environment shows shortcomings. Chapter 4 DIRECTIONS AND SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVED DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM ECONOMY IN THE NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCES IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION 4.1. Context and directions to develop tourism economy in the North Central provinces to 2020 with a vision to 2030 4.1.1. The new context of tourism economy in the North Central provinces 4.1.1.1. The international context Vietnam’s commitments to: the ASEAN member countries and the multilateral framework. 4.1.1.2. National context - New opportunities: i, Vietnam has always actively into the regional and global economy both in depth and on wide scale as well as boost bilateral cooperations. ii, After the global financial crisis, Vietnam has reformed economic structure. iii, Vietnam is boosting up industrialization, modernization process in line with developing knowledge economy. iv, Local government’s awareness at all level and people’s awareness in the North Central provinces have increased significantly. - Difficulties and challenges: i, Exploitation of natural resources, landscape, tourism environment and human resource is not compatible with potentials. ii, Human resource in tourism industry has not met the requirements for professional and practical skills, integration, and connection to global market. iii, Capability of capital resource and technology is still limited. iv, The pressure of intensive international competition, etc. 4.1.2. Directions to develop tourism economy in the North Central provinces to 2020 with a vision to 2030 4.1.2.1. Development of tourism products: 1) Development of tourism activities in heritage sites associated with promoting marine tourism. 2) Development of tourism product through tourism types. 3) Development of other tourism products. 4.1.2.2. Increasing investment to develop tourism economy: Raising investment capital for tourism economic development from the different resources. North Central provinces should invest resouces in targeted projects and programs in 19 order to generate ‘a jostle’ for the tourism economic development in the North Central provinces. 4.1.2.3. Provisions to ensure to gain sustainability of tourism economic development: Develop tourism economy in association with environmental protection and natural landscape preservation, adapting to climate change, and also for the welfare of the community. Accordingly, forms of ecotourism, community tourism should be paid attention to develop and expand as a way to follow the orientation of sustainable tourism economic development, climate change adaptation of the whole region. 4.1.2.4. Expanding and associating in tourism economic development: both forms and contents of association should be taken into consideration, of which contents of the association for tourism economy development should include: i, Associating in producing tourism programmes and products featuring specific characteristics of each province in the region, as well as the whole region; ii, Associating in mobilizing and exploiting resources effectively, and orientations to attract foreign investment and encourage domestic investment. iii, Associating in developing and implementing policies for tourism economic development. iv, Associating in implementing action plans of each province in combination with other provinces in the region. v, Associating in implementing programmes, duties, plans, projects of the region. vi, Associating in inspecting, supervising the regional policy, regulation implementation and standard application of tourism economy. 4.1.2.5. Development of tourism sites, destinations - Development of tourism site system: On the basis of the regional potentials, priority is given to build and develop 6 national tourism sites, including : Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (Thanh Hoa Province), Dong Loc Three-way crossroads (Ha Tinh Province), Nguyen Du Relic Area (Ha Tinh Province), Dong Hoi City (Quang Binh Province), Ancient Citadel of Quang Tri (Quang Tri Province), and Bach Ma National Park (Thua Thien – Hue Province). - Development of tourism sites: The system of national tourism sites need to have priority mechanisms and policies to boost tourism development, including : Kim Lien national tourism site (Nghe An Province), Thien Cam Beach (Ha Tinh Province), Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park (Quang Binh Province), Lang Co – Canh Duong (Thua Thien – Hue Province). 4.2. Fundamental solutions to accelerate the development of tourism economy in the North Central provinces in international economic integration 4.2.1. Solutions of mechanism, policy 20 4.2.1.1. Reviewing, Perfecting policy system: It is necessary to continue to implement reform programs, perfect mechanisms, policies, complete stipulations of the law and relevant legal documents regarding tourism economy. Completing, supplementing mechanisms of investments in tourism economy; settling interdisciplinary and interoffice affairs harmoniously such as: mechanism, policies, regulations on tax administration, market management, customs procedures, immigration procedures…in order to create favourable conditions for quickly boosting tourism economic development. 4.2.1.2. Strengthening the capacity of state management in tourism sector: 1) Authorities should concentrate on doing planning, plans; completing and perfecting legal document. 2) To establish Tourism Economy Coordinating Committee to coordinate the development of the investment and investment attraction policies, strategies for the regional tourism economy. 3) Perfecting the management system of tourism economy from provincial to local levels. 4) Improving state management capacity and professionalism for management personnel in tourism industry. 5) Consolidating, strengthening the State management of tourism economy. 6) Developing training programs in order to upgrade professionalism, management capacity as well as informatics, foreign languages…for tourism management personnel in provincial institutions, tourism enterprises, etc. 4.2.2. Group of solutions to create favourable conditions for tourism economy activities in the North Central provinces 4.2.2.1. Expanding the scope of communication, promotion programs and activities for tourism economy of the North Central Region in both other domestic areas and foreign countries: (i) Conducting research on tourists’ behaviour, attitude, styles, taste, customs, psychology. (ii) Designing an appealing advertisement campaign through communication means. (iii) Diversifying the forms of communication, propaganda, etc. 4.2.2.2. Improving competitiveness of travel enterprises in the North Central Regional provinces: 1) Strengthening market research. 2) Market development closely ties to tourism product development. 4.2.2.3. Strengthening investments to develop and improve accommodation establishments in the North Central provinces: the regional provinces need to increase investment in upgrading hotels, prioritize investment and construction projects on hotels with modern facilities that reach the international standards. The region should prioritise investment into constructing restaurants, and entertainment centres. 4.2.3. Group of solutions for improving competitiveness of tourism products in the North Central provinces 21 4.2.3.1. Diversifying and improving competitiveness of tourism products Diversifying tourism producs: In the process of tourism product development, it should focus on ecotourism, leisure tourism, tourism products combine with cultural and historical activities…Combining new tourism product development with current tourism product improvement in order to meet requirement for broadening market in the orientation of fast and sustainable tourism economy development. Local areas should support each other to collect, restore and develop tourism products and related services. Raising quality of tourism products: It is necessary to classify, systematise and organise traditional festivals in the region efficiently to offer for tourists and implement promotion and advertising campaigns to promote the tourism activity. And it is necessary to encourage the restructuring of traditional craft villages to serve tourists. 4.2.3.2. The development of different tourism products: - Different tourism product creation is to affirm competitive position in the international market. In the North Central provinces, in the coming years, it is necessary to prioritize and concentrate on developing tourism products in which have particular characteristics, no like other areas: touring caravan tourism product, marine tourism product, cultural - historical tourism product… 4.2.3.3. The implementation of price strategy for tourism products Price of tourism product is set and offered different levels in different markets on the basis of quality, distinction, seasons and every area’s characteristics. Therefore, it is necessary to apply a flexible price mechanism for tourism products in order to attract tourists. 4.2.4. Group of solutions for tourism resources in the North Central provinces 4.2.4.1. Improving quality of tourism human resource: In order to satisfy urgent requirements of tourism human resource in the North Central provinces, it is the time to develop a comprehensive training program with specific and detailed plans of retrains programs for old members, training activities for new comers, professionalism and skills supplement training programs for employees at all levels working in the tourism sector from State section, private and foreign joint venture enterprises. 4.2.4.2. Mobilizing and exploiting capitals resources to boost tourism economy development Investment in infrastructure system in tourism sites: Priority is given to key projects. Investment in tourism service works: should focus on improving service quality and expanding scope of the system in order to create favourable conditions to 22 receive advance technology in the accommodation service business. Investment in the system of entertainment service works: Developing entertainment services in order to satisfy tourist’s demands and make their stay longer. 4.2.4.3. Value advanced science and technology applications to boost the process of international integration for tourism economy The direction of research should focus on: Conducting researches in the effective management and exploitation of tourism resources, tourism statistic methods, and problems of tourism economy environment; Boosting typical tourism product development, etc. 4.2.4.4. Material facilities – infrastructure development for tourism economy The regional provinces should develop the system of road traffic, water way traffic, air traffic comprehensively, in which road traffic has close association with tourism resources in the North Central provinces. At the moment, the region should concentrate on investing and upgrading the main and important national highways. The highways lead to international border gates such as: Lao Bao, Cau Treo, and Cha Lo need to have investment capital resources to upgrade and broaden in order to reach international standard. 4.2.5. Group of solutions for association and cooperation in tourism economy development between the North Central provinces 4.2.5.1. Forming association to boost tourism economy development in the North Central provinces Tourism economy in the North Central provinces should attach much importance to: i, Conducting propaganda campaigns to increase awareness about benefits of the regional association under requirement of international economic integration. ii, The local authorities should unite in plannings decisions for transportation system development, tourism material and technical facilities. iii, The region should encourage investment in some types of services that the region still have not enough supply capacity. iv, The local tourism agencies should develop coordinated tourism programs or products with typical features of each province, etc. 4.2.5.1. Strengthening regional and international co-operation to develop tourism economy in the North Central provinces: Accelerated co-operation of tourism economy under the framework of the East-West Economic Corridor, the Greater Mekong Sub-region, ASEAN and WTO. 4.2.6.Solutions to develop tourism economy in a sustainable manner. 4.2.6.1. Protecting tourism resources and environment: The sustainable development of tourism economy in the North Central provinces should prioritise activities as follows: i, Combining social, and cultural development and 23 environmental protection planning with tourism economic development planning. ii, Assessing environmental impacts on all tourism development and business projects. iv, Increasing investment, promotion, and education to raise the public awareness of conserving the nation’s natural, historical and cultural heritage sites. 4.2.6.2. Solutions in response to climate change to develop tourism economy: Improved propaganda for and awareness of the whole society of climate change and sea water rising. Reviewing and adjusting tourism development planning, particularly in the coastal and mountainous areas of the North Central region to match with plans fighting climate change and sea water rising designed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the North Central provinces. CONCLUSION Tourism economy plays an important role in the socio-economic life and an important position in the national cause of industrialisation and modernisation. The development of tourism economy does not only aim at exploiting the country’s available potentials but also is a pressing demand to integrate our economy into the world economy in the development process. The North Central provinces make an overriding important position in Vietnam’s Tourism Economy Development Strategy. This is a region with typical and diverse tourism resources, allowing the rapid development of distinctive tourism products related to relaxation, sea and island tourism, cultural and historical tourism, heritage tourism, caravan tourism, MICE, and coastal cuisine tourism. Although the national and international circumstances have gone through numerous changes, difficulties and challenges since 2000, tourism economy in the North Central provinces still records a profound growth. However, the development of tourism economy remains far from the region’s potential, quality of tourism services remains poor. Advantages and strengths to develop the North Central provinces’ tourism economy must be brought into full play whilst shortcomings and weaknesses need to be addressed, this has surpassed the management capacity and resources of the region. That’s why, the incorporation to mobilise resources and implement mutual action programmes of the region has been a decisive factor to promoting the development of tourism economy in the North Central provinces. After a long period of time searching for documents and data and studying theoretical and practical bases, the PhD candidate has completed the thesis with major contents as follows:: (1) Generalising the research of other scientific studies, monographs, theses, and other works by both internal and external researchers; (2) Specifying tourism economy concepts, tourism economy components; and analysing 24 special characteristcs of tourism economy, the relationship between tourism economy development and socio-economic development, and factors influencing tourism economy in the framework of international economic integration. Drawing lessons of experience of developing tourism economy in foreign countries in accordance with typical topics, and evidence from China, Thailand and Singapore to apply for Vietnam in general and the North Central region in particular; (3) Indicating and analysing potential, strengths of tourism economy in the North Central provinces, the reality of tourism economy development in the region from 2000 to present. Identifying achievements, shortcomings of the North Central region’s tourism economy, and subjective and objective causes to these limitations; (4) Based on theoretical researches and practical analyses, the author puts forward feasible directions and solutions to accelerate the development of tourism economy in the North Central provinces in the time to come. However, to achieve desired socio-economic efficiency, tourism economy in the North Central provinces must be developed synchronously with an integrated implementation of solutions applied properly in accordance with the sector’s demands and the locality in each particular period of time. LIST OF STUDIES RELATED TO THE RESEARCH 1. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2013), “Tourism economy in the North Central provinces in international economic integration: shortcomings and reasons”, The Journal of Economics & Management, (7), p.45 - 49 2. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2012), “Tourism Economy in the North Central provinces: linkage to develop in the international economic integration”, The Journal of Political Theory & Communication, (11), p.52 - 56. 3. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2011), “Tourism economy in line with the resolution of the 11th Party Congress”, Journal of Political Science - Public Administration Information, Centre for Science Information - Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, (05), p.13 - 18. 4. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2010), “The reality and solutions of developing human resources for Vietnam’s service sector in the international economic integration”, The Journal of Labour Protection, Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, (08), p.15-17. 5. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2006), “Studying specific features of the tourism economy”, Vietnam Tourism Magazine, Vietnam National Tourism Administration, (12), p.78 - 80. 6. Nguyen Thi Hong Lam (2005), “Thanh Hoa accelerates the development of human resources for tourism”, Vietnam Tourism Magazine, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, (10), p.26 - 27.

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