Considering tourism one of the important economic sectors, over the last time, Tay Ninh province has invested in and effectively exploited its natural advantages and tourism potential, contributing significantly to GDP growth of the province.

Currently, the province’s tourism sector is implementing synchronous solutions and striving to bring Tay Ninh’s tourism to national scale by 2020. The Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Duong Van Phong, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism on this topic. Kim Bang - Minh Tuan report.

The local tourism industry has gradually become an important economic sector, contributing to economic restructuring in Tay Ninh province. Can you share more about the achievements of the tourism industry of the province?

With a favourable geographical location and unique tourism potential, Tay Ninh has favourable conditions to attract tourists and establish attractive tours. Tay Ninh has been exploiting all the existing tourism potential in a reasonable manner and achieved some encouraging changes which open up more opportunities in the future for Tay Ninh to develop tourism in forests, rivers; cultural, spiritual and historical tourism and to promote border gate trade with key famous tourism spots.

In 2005 - 2012 period, revenue from tourism grew on average at 21.93 percent a year, contributing 2.9 percent to the provincial GDP (in 2012, it reached VND440 billion). Number of staying tourists, tourists, tourists going and coming through international borders rose 23.17, 6.7 and 34.34 percent annually, respectively.

Based on the tourism development planning in the area, Tay Ninh has called for more investment in developing products attracting tourists such as developing infrastructure in Nui Ba tourism spot, building a new cable system to serve tourism, investing in Long Dien Son tourism spot, Lo Go - Xa Mat National Park, and Ma Thien Lanh and Bau Ca Na tourism destinations.

What efforts has Tay Ninh made in promoting investment into the local tourism industry?

Attracting domestic and foreign investment in tourism has been paid due attention to by the province’s leaders as well as the leaders of relevant departments and industries through several information channels such as exhibitions, conferences, seminars and press releases in specialized fields. In 2011, Tay Ninh province, in coordination with the Vietnam National Tourism Administration, successfully held the seminar on tourism investment promotion in Tay Ninh province and provinces in the South East area.

Tay Ninh has built a portfolio of investment projects and investment incentive mechanisms for the tourism sector in accordance with the Government’s stipulations to create favourable conditions for investors to choose investment projects. At the same time, the province is implementing the “one-stop-shop” mechanism to serve enterprise from preparation phase to implementation phase of projects. In addition, the province also creates the most favourable conditions to attract investors into key tourism zones such as Nui Ba, Dau Tieng lake ecology tourism, Ma Thien Lanh, Lo Go - Xa Mat National Park.

What will Tay Ninh do to make itself a tourism destination of the country and Southeast area?

Based on the overall strategy, planning and programme on developing Vietnam’s tourism and particular natural resources, Tay Ninh province has issued Resolution 04; the provincial People’s Committee issued overall plan for tourism development of Tay Ninh to 2020 with orientation towards 2030, built programme on human resource development in Tay Ninh’s tourism to 2015 with orientation towards 2020 and is training management human resource in tourism for the state as well as for businesses to serve the country's development in the process of international economic integration.

While the overall goal is to develop sustainable tourism, the general direction of tourism development of Tay Ninh is the construction and development of typical tourism products of the province, such as religion, culture, history, festivals, eco-tourism and border tourism. Besides, the province also invests from the state budget in a comprehensive manner as a basis for tourism development. The province prioritizes investment in infrastructure development in the key areas of tourism development, creates momentum to attract investors to develop projects and enlists ODA and other sources of capital for investment in infrastructure and technical facilities for tourism development.

In addition, the province will also apply appropriate and flexible policies on tax exemption, tax postpone, land rent reduction and interest loan for projects including projects giving priority to investment, projects investing in remote areas, projects based on new products and projects ensuring effective protection of environmental resources. At the same time, the province strengthens the promotion of tourism and brings the image of Tay Ninh tourism to tourists in the country and abroad.

What are the main tourism products for the coming period as well as prioritized tourism projects calling for investment?

The province focuses on developing particular tourism products having advantages such as tourism associated with religion and festivals, tourism associated with the historic, scenic and cultural sites, eco tourism associated with national parks, countryside, gardens, village tourism, commercial tourism, tourism associated with public service, visiting relatives tourism, health care tourism, and culinary tourism of Tay Ninh.

Prioritized investment projects in the area in the near future include Ba Den Mountain national park, national tourist monuments of Central Bureau of Southern, Lo Go – Xa Mat ecological park, Dau Tieng Lake ecological park, Ma Thien Lanh - Ba Den ecological tourism, Truong Doi ecological tourism spot, Bau Ca Na ecological park, Moc Bai ecological park, Trang Bang ecological park, Vam Co Dong River garden ecological tourism spot, Trang Bang traditional village of dew dried rice pan cake and many other destinations of various types of services offered to tourists.

How has the province paid attention to building new products and travel routes?

Tay Ninh possesses peculiar advantages such as rivers, mountains, forests, lakes and border with specific traditional products such as spiritual, religious, historical and cultural values. The tourism sector of the province has also created new products such as business travel, border tourism, family visiting tourism, healthcare tourism, tourism associated with cake soup and dried rice pan cake.

On that basis, the provincial tourism sector has also recalculated travel routes. Particularly, there is an international travel route by road from Cambodia through Moc Bai and Xa Mat international border gate. Tourist market of this route is mainly Cambodian, tourists from other countries coming to Cambodia and wishing to travel through Vietnam. This is an important tourism route to the international tourist market of Tay Ninh province.

Inter-regional road travel route is mainly via Highway 22, provincial highway 789 and 794 from the tourist centre of Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces in the Southeast region to Tay Ninh.

Inter-regional travel routes by waterway are through the Saigon River, the Vam Co Dong River and picking up tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and provinces of the Southeast and South West region in visitor transport vessels.

Besides international and inter-regional tourism routes, the province also develops local tourism routes including road travel routes (Tay Ninh Town - Ba Den Mountain, Tay Ninh Town - Dau Tieng Lake, Tay Ninh - Ma Thien Lanh - Nui Ba tourism zone, Tay Ninh Town - Xa Mat border gate, Tay Ninh Town - Moc Bai border gate) and waterway travel routes (Vam Co Dong River tour, Saigon River tour, Dau Tieng Lake tour).