Spiritual cultural tourism in the northern province of Ninh Binh has attracted a large number of both domestic and foreign tourists, not only turning Ninh Binh into one of Vietnam's top attractive tourist destinations but also creating jobs for rural workers, thus empowering Vietnam tourism in the international arena.
Attractive tourist destination
The Government has approved the Trang An scenic complex project in Ninh Binh, with the construction, conservation and embellishment plans for Hoa Lu ancient capital, Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Trang An eco-tourism area and Bai Dinh pagoda. Before Trang An was recognised by the UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the whole area mentioned above was a muddy field alternating with bare hills and rocky mountains of Ninh Binh province. With the approval of the Government, Ninh Binh's leaders assigned construction company Xuan Truong to coordinate with the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha to build the Trang An scenic complex at a total investment of over VND17 trillion, with an implementation period of 70 years.
After 14 years of construction in the form of public-private partnership (PPP), Trang An complex has been formed with a unique natural landscape, while its global outstanding values regarding of culture, geology and geomorphology have been also discovered. In an area of over 12,200 ha, Trang An contains a range of historical and scenic sites, including 29 provincial and 20 typical national monuments and thousands of hectares of special forests, attracting tourists from all over the world to the site, especially since the UNESCO recognised Trang An as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Nguyen Xuan Truong, the project's investor. said: "The Trang An scenic complex contributes to the protection of thousands of hectares of forests and rocky mountains in Ninh Binh. In addition, there are also hundreds of hectares of forest planted by the investor, turning it into a green "lung" to protect the lives for Ninh Binh people."
As Ninh Binh promotes PPP form, many other spiritual constructions at Bai Dinh mountain pagoda - managed by the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha - have been built to serve the local tourism development, many of which are recognised as Vietnam and Southeast Asia's records.
The site, which also preserves many cultural beliefs, opens free to the public, helping Bai Dinh pagoda attract millions of domestic and international tourists, as well as thousands of monks, nuns and Buddhist followers who come to practice Buddhism and preserve the cultural and spiritual values of Vietnamese Buddhism, which always accompanies the ups and downs of the nation.
The spiritual cultural tourism in the area has helped boost Ninh Binh tourism's development in general, with the average number of tourists increased by 12.5% a year, returning a tourism revenue in 2018 at more than VND3.2 trillion. In 2019, the province targets to welcome 7.5 million domestic and international tourists and more importantly, tens of thousands of local people have stable jobs which will greatly improve their lives.
Ready the National Tourism Year - Ninh Binh 2020
The National Tourism Year 2020 hosted by Ninh Binh is just around the corner. With experiences in organising major events in the past, such as the 2008 United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations 2008, the ceremony to receive "Buddha's Sarira" from India to Bai Dinh pagoda and the second Vesak Celebrations in 2014 welcoming thousands of international delegates from 97 countries and territories around the world, have showed that Ninh Binh has enough conditions to successfully organise the National Tourism Year 2020.
Pham Van Ha, Chairman of Gia Sinh Commune People's Committee in Gia Vien district, informed that his commune has over 2,000 local workers involving in spiritual tourism service activities, with an average monthly income from VND5-7 million a person. From the status of the most disadvantaged commune in Gia Vien district, until now, many local households have escaped from poverty and enriched themselves thanks to homestay business. The share of the commune's tourism and industry service structure increased to 85%, while agriculture reduced to 15%.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Duc Loi, Chairman of Truong Yen Commune People's Committee in Hoa Lu district, said that thanks to Trang An complex, the commune's locals have jobs in tourism to enhance their lives, while the environment is protected and turning the commune into a worthwhile residing countryside. They have expressed their desire that Ninh Binh authorities continue promoting PPP form to speed up the construction of other works to serve the upcoming National Tourism Year 2020. It is an opportunity to promote local tangible and intangible cultural values, while boosting local tourism resources and products, Loi affirmed.
For its sustainable tourism development, Ninh Binh should enhance the socialisation to call for investment in infrastructure for tourist areas and speeding up the construction of its key tourist facilities combined with improving the quality of tourism services and forming specific tourism products.
The province also needs to cooperate with other localities throughout the country to effectively promote spiritual tourism, while studying the opening of accommodation at pagodas and religious establishments to help tourists learn about the cultural and spiritual life in each countryside, thus enriching tourism products.
Together with attaching importance to developing its night-time economy, promoting other tourist products is expected to create a driving force for the development of Ninh Binh and the whole country's tourism and turning it into a spearhead economic sector.