Vietnam is home to many natural features appropriate for adventure travel activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, car and motorbike off-road driving, canoeing and kayaking, surfing, parachuting and paragliding.
But in addition to the above-mentioned advantages, adventure travel in Vietnam still lacks professionalism and experience, resulting in safety risks for tourists.
A number of travel agencies have been organising adventure tours at their own discretion without following any standardised rules. Adventure tours are usually disguised as sightseeing tours where participants are equipped with low quality protective clothing and gear while safety measures are taken lightly.
There are also no specific or clear regulations at sites where adventure travel takes place while the majority of tourists pay minimal attention to learning about safety regulations or whether travel agencies offering such tours are qualified or licensed.
That is why many companies are willing to offer unregistered and low quality tours to seek generous profits. Moreover, a dedicated licence for adventure tour guides has yet to be issued in Vietnam, thus there is a shortage of properly trained guides and many are not equipped with skills to deal with emergency situations.
A circular on adventure travel management is being drafted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and will be amended and issued after feedback is collected from relevant companies.
Adventure travel is one of Vietnam’s strengths and will bring substantial profits if the sector is developed in the right direction and the right way. This high-risk type of tourism requires operators to strictly comply with legal regulations and to refrain from taking tourists to dangerous sites where adventure travel is not permitted.
Safety must always come first and tour operators must attach importance to risk management when designing adventure tours. Each type of activity and each tour must come with specific safety measures.
For tourists, the General Administration of Tourism advise them not to be careless with their own safety and only go to permitted destinations. Tourists are also urged to obey legal regulations and local rules to avoid unnecessary risks as well as choose reliable tour operators with good safety records.
For their part, tourism administrators should survey, evaluate and re-plan adventure travel sites and promulgate specific regulations on operating adventure tours, and train tour guides adequately so that they can meet requirements of health, foreign language and emergency skills.