Four significant issues of Vietnam's tourism today are policies, resources, tourism products and effective promotion. In particular, tourism products are a core issue.
Vietnam’s tourism products are now both redundant and insufficient. There are too many similar products and not enough unique ones. We also lack national brand positioning in the mind of international visitors.
Visitors do not just want to involve in resort activities; they also want to experience the local culture and lifestyle. Vietnam still lacks products that can satisfy this demand.
Given that, agritourism, which is tourism involving agricultural activities, is a potential niche market.
The appeal of agritourism
In fact, travellers from Europe and America enjoy our farm tours. The popular tours for them may include being a farmer for one day, farming in rice paddy fields, fishing, homestay, coffee picking, or trying Dalat wine. Especially, for holidaymakers such as in Hoi An, agritourism may prolong their stays.
In the North, tourists may enjoy the scenery of yellow rice terraced fields in mountainous provinces. Besides, they can admire birds and visit different kinds of farmers’ houses at the agricultural museum in Nam Dinh.
For visitors from different cultures, it is genuinely fascinating to explore and experience the everyday life of Vietnamese farmers. The attraction may just come from wearing traditional clothes of farmers in the North Delta, or learning how to eat with chopsticks and cook rice with dry straw, for example.
Besides, some Asian delegations of students, professors and businesses also come to Vietnam to study the models of agricultural business here.
Agritourism is not ecotourism; it is based on agriculture. Agritourism products include 4P: Product; Promotion; Price; Place (for distribution) and 4E: Experience; Evangelism; Exchange; Every place.
Solutions for agritourism development
To develop agritourism, we need to come up with open policies for tourism and infrastructure development. Promotion should be pushed at home and abroad, especially at target markets. The successful model that Tourism Authority of Thailand is Thai lifestyles, most of which are based on the life of farmers.
Clean agriculture and sustainable development should be encouraged. Each province should select their agricultural specialities such as Dien Bien rice, Phu Quoc cashew, Thai Nguyen tea for example so that travellers can connect different destinations when going from north to south.
Tourism is now all about destinations, experiences, and memories. Hence, we should attach great importance to the preservation and promotion of cultural values in rural areas, such as keeping local markets. Agricultural museums should be built, traditional handicraft villages should be preserved, and artisans should be trained. Every day, the locals can still work on their land and help tourists experience parts of their life. It will also help Vietnamese farmers reduce poverty and increase their income.
Vietnam needs to plan some agricultural resorts for both Vietnamese and European - American guests. These resorts must be environmentally friendly, close to villages, riversides, and their design should bear local cultural characteristics and focus on farmers’ lifestyle.