Recognizing that one of the reasons adventure tourism in Vietnam remains in a potential state is due to businesses having a conservative mindset, being hesitant to explore. Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Trung Luong, Deputy Director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research, suggests the need for closer connections between regulatory authorities, researchers, and businesses.
– As a researcher, how does he assess the current potential of adventure tourism in Vietnam?
– Vietnam has immense potential for adventure tourism. Our country possesses vast mountain ranges, with over 50,000 kilometers of limestone terrain, which includes numerous caves. Cave exploration is an appealing form of adventure tourism, and Vietnam is recognized as one of the world’s leading destinations for this activity. The third potential lies in conquering the ocean with boats. Vietnam boasts a long coastline, covering an area of one million square kilometers of seawater and over 3,000 islands, making it highly suitable for developing adventure tourism. The rivers, streams, and waterfalls in the Central Highlands are also ideal for activities such as river-crossing and rafting.
Adventure tourism is highly appealing as it combines excitement with unique experiences related to the people, country, and culture of Vietnam. Besides the thrill of overcoming personal fears, travelers also get to immerse themselves in simple yet valuable aspects of nature and Vietnamese culture.
– With great potential and allure, but Vietnam’s adventure tourism has not fully exploited its strengths, if not to say it is still hesitant and tentative. According to you, what are the reasons for this?
– There are several reasons for this. Adventure tourism involves the safety of tourists, requiring substantial investments in personnel and equipment. Another issue is that the market share for adventure tourists is relatively small, and our promotional efforts are still limited in attracting both domestic and international visitors.
– In reality, the exploitation of adventure tourism will have significant impacts on the natural environment and local cultures. According to you, how can we balance these aspects?
– The impact on nature and local culture is a common concern in tourism. We need to study the forms of impact to manage them effectively. Similarly, adventure tourism involves human presence in remote and sensitive areas, which often leaves significant impacts. For example, caves are living ecosystems with unique light, temperature, and environment, and the introduction of human presence, even the lighting from lamps, can affect the surrounding environment. Although specific studies are lacking, there have been warnings about potential impacts. For instance, some tourism companies planned to install cable systems in Son Doong Cave, and many scientists have voiced concerns about the potential negative impacts on the environment and the ecosystem there.
In tourism, there is a concept called “carrying capacity” – the maximum number of visitors that a destination can accommodate without causing adverse impacts on nature, culture, and visitor satisfaction. Countries like the Philippines and Thailand have closed some of their most beautiful beaches for a period to allow for environmental restoration due to excessive development that had damaged the marine ecosystem. In Vietnam, destinations like Nha Trang and Da Nang have also realized the importance of managing tourism growth to protect their natural resources.
Therefore, as we develop adventure tourism, we must pay attention to the carrying capacity and avoid overwhelming destinations with excessive tourism activities.
– So, according to you, what are the solutions for adventure tourism in Vietnam to develop professionally and attract more tourists?
– The limitation of adventure tourism businesses in Vietnam is that they tend to focus on existing markets and are reluctant to invest in risky markets. They prefer to exploit rather than develop. In the tourism industry, success comes to those who dare to take the path less traveled, even though it may be difficult, as it brings higher returns. The market segment for adventure tourism is narrow, but it has a high potential for profitability, providing an opportunity for daring businesses to venture and explore. These businesses should seek to invest and collaborate with larger foreign enterprises to share profits.
Additionally, there is a need for in-depth research to develop specific products for adventure tourism, providing support and guidance to businesses on where and how to exploit specific tourism products. Unfortunately, we have not achieved this yet. I have led a project on “The Scientific Foundation for the Development of Adventure Tourism in Vietnam” since 2009, but it has not received much attention or investment for research.
As a result, many businesses are left to fend for themselves without a comprehensive understanding of the market, which hinders their development. As researchers, we can only provide studies and proposals to support the industry’s growth.
– You’re welcome!.