October 23, 2023
HANOI – Amid a rising trend of green and sustainable tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic, Việt Nam is advised to design a strategy and measures to promote green tourism development and better meet tourists’ demands.
Over the years, Việt Nam’s tourism sector has taken big steps forward in terms of visitor numbers and revenue in both domestic and international markets. However, the sector’s growth is putting pressure on the preservation of natural and cultural sites in destinations.
Experts believe that as the country’s tourism is mainly based on available natural and cultural resources, ensuring its green development and responsibility to the environment and society is the only way for the sector to grow and become a national spearhead economic sector.
The Eurobarometer survey on Attitudes of Europeans towards tourism shows that COVID-19 will likely have long-term impacts on EU citizens’ travelling behaviour, while also demonstrating the growing importance of sustainable tourist offers for the recovery of tourism.
The survey found that 38 per cent of European respondents expect more domestic travelling in the future. A large majority of EU citizens (82 per cent) are prepared to change some of their habits to support more sustainable tourism, for example, by consuming local products (55 per cent), choosing ecological means of transport (36 per cent) or paying more to protect the natural environment (35 per cent) or to benefit the local community (33 per cent).
A survey by the Institute for Tourism Development Research under the National Authority of Tourism (VNAT) on the willingness of international tourists in developing sustainable tourism shows that 76 per cent are willing to reduce holiday waste; 62 per cent are ready to consume local products; 45 per cent prefer transport that has little impact on the environment; 45 per cent choose to take time off outside of peak season; 38 per cent are willing to support local communities; 31 per cent would choose a less popular destination; and 28 per cent are willing to reduce water use during their vacation.
In reality, the habit of green consumption is popular not only among foreign tourists but also among domestic visitors.
According to a survey by Booking.com, 88 per cent of domestic tourists said that the COVID-19 pandemic prompted them to travel in a sustainable manner.
They tend to be more willing to pay more to reduce impacts on the environment and local cultural heritage while being ready to participate in activities to save the environment in destinations.
Recognising the trend, many localities have paid greater attention to green tourism development. Hội An City has called for a reduction in tourists’ use of single-use plastic waste with a goal of reducing 13-15 per cent of plastic waste each year and eliminating plastic waste by 2025.
Cô Tô Island in Quảng Ninh Province has also implemented a similar policy, advising tourists not to bring plastic bags and bottles with them while travelling.
In a decision issued on 22 July 2022 regarding a national action plan on green growth for the 2021-30 period, the Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to focus on finalising institutions and policy on tourism development management towards a green and sustainable direction, prioritising green tourism models and products.
The national tourism development strategy until 2030 also clarified the sustainable and inclusive direction of Vietnamese tourism based on green growth and optimising tourism’s contributions to sustainable development goals.
Phạm Thị Hải Yến from Hà Nội University of Culture believes that Việt Nam should design preferential investment policies for green tourism projects and invest more in the research and application of technologies, the use of alternative energy, and promoting the “3R” (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) habit during tourism activities.
From a business perspective, Cao Quốc Chung, Deputy Director of the Vidotour company’s branch in Hà Nội, affirmed that Việt Nam could fully capitalise on and take advantage of the trend of choosing green tourism among tourists to harmonise tourism development with community ecological environment protection.
It was necessary to pay special attention to creating memorable experiences and interactions for tourists with the local community, as this would be an important factor helping to boost tourism development in a sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible manner, he said.