The Government of Vietnam continues to stress tourism’s key role in the country’s socio-economic development, and it hopes that sports and athletics will help play a big part in doubling the tourism industry’s future growth.
Sports-tourism to boost tourism growth
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam stressed this stance in his opening ceremony remarks at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) International Conference on Tourism and Sports in Da Nang on Saturday.
“The cross section of sports and tourism has developed into a key driving force for growth, and we’ve seen benefits for many nations since the UNWTO and the International Olympic Committee teamed up in Barcelona in 2001,” Dam said.
“The link between sports and tourism builds bridges between the world’s people, but it brings nations closer to peace and prosperity,” he said.
He said tourism contributes around 10 per cent of global economic growth, but Viet Nam and nations wish to push that figure into double digits.
Dam said the conference will help Viet Nam improve the tourism industry with experience and lessons on the connection between sports and tourism.
Taleb Rifai, General Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation, said the fifth Asian Beach Games in Da Nang City serves as obvious evidence of Viet Nam’s capacity for organisation.
He said: “It is also concrete proof of the important link between tourism and sport—and the reciprocal relations between these two aspects, such as the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. Mutual support for mutual development between sports and tourism at these events has advanced host countries towards more comprehensive development.”
The conference, which drew over 200 participants, discussed three major themes – the ways in which tourism and sports interact and contribute to sustainable development, different experiences in developing sport tourism products, and the promotion of sport tourism products in the recent past including golf tourism, adventure, mountain climbing and ocean tourism.
Dr. Terry Stevens, an expert from UNWTO, said there are over 1.1 billion travellers in the world, and the figure will reach 1.4 billion by 2020, creating US$1.5 trillion in export revenue.
He said sport tourism is seen as an important draw from up-and-coming destinations.
Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Viet Nam hosted 7 million international tourists the first nine months this year — a 25 per cent increase since the same period of last year.
The country’s tourism industry contributed 6.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2015, with total 8 million international tourists and 57 million domestic tourists.
Da Nang – the pioneer city
Da Nang was the first city in Viet Nam, and of Southeast Asian region, to host a leg of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race.
The city, which sponsored the Da Nang-Vietnam team competing in the race, boosted tourism by playing host to a leg of the longest ocean race in the world.
Chairman of the city Huynh Duc Tho said the race helped promote the symbol of the Ngu Hanh Son Mountains (Marble Mountain) and the city’s tourism logo, Fantastic City, to a global audience. Now, he says, the Asian Beach Games are serving as the next step.
However, the city’s tourism industry contributed just 10 per cent to the city’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year, and the city has yet to develop a world standard entertainment centre to lure tourists to the city.