Craft villages still cannot attract tourists
  • | VietnamNet | May 11, 2011 03:29 PM

Some articles have exaggerated when reporting that craft village tourism is now in “death throes”. However, it is true that many craft villages have been in misfortune.

Most craft villages still cannot attract visitors

Many tourists do not know what to do when they are carried by travel firms to the craft villages, where they cannot find any signals of “craft villages” except for signboards hung over the gateway.

At the villages they would have nothing to do, except wandering on the bamboo-shade villages’ paths and watching how the craftsmen work. After that, realising that there is no other thing to learn about and no more thing to do, travellers would get into coaches to return to hotels. Many of them think, after such visits, think that they would never return to the craft villages.

The problem is that not many tour organisers think that they should and could do a simple thing – provide travellers the detailed information about the history of the craft villages as well as the special characteristics of the products of the villages. They could also talk about the most important factors of craft villages in Vietnam’s history and culture.

Many tourists complained that they were disappointed with the unprofessional explanations of tourism guides. Most craftsmen of the craft villages think that they are just workers, and they do not need to act as tour guides to explain everything to tourists.

In fact, even if they want to act as tour guides, they will not be able to do that, because they cannot speak foreign languages. Meanwhile, travel firms believe that their only duty is bringing tourists to craft villages.

There are more than 1,300 operational craft villages in Hanoi’s neighboring areas, like Nam Dinh, Bac Ninh and Thai Binh. However, only five craft villages have been trained in tourism skills – a too low proportion if compared with the demand for attracting tourists.

The figure explains why many craft villages can receive just a few foreign visitors annually, though they have been open for tourists for the last many years.

In fact, local authorities have always been trying to develop craft village tourism. A lot of conferences and workshops were organised, which have come into a conclusion that the localities still cannot attract tourists because of the poor infrastructure. As a result, the local authorities tried to ask for the budget to upgrade roads and infrastructure items. However, the situation still has not been improved, because tourists still cannot find interesting things here in the villages.

Hoi An can be a model

Hoi An ancient town is a destination which really can attract foreign tourists. Many foreigners come there to enjoy “a day of living as a Hoi An Ancient Town’s resident”.

Many foreign tourists said that they really could enjoy the rare friendliness and hospitality of local people. The atmosphere here makes them feel like being in a family. Foreigners are willing to embark on apprenticeship with craftsmen here, have meals together with the craftsmen and become ones of the families.

Travellers to Hoi An do not always have to spend money. Tourism is not always a kind of service. The tourism culture is the most important factor which explains why tourists want to come there for the second, or third time.

Most of the 2,000 craft villages in Vietnam, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City or Dong Nai, still cannot do the simple thing that Hoi An’s residents are doing. People always try to persuade foreigners to spend as much money as possible when they come to the places. They do not understand that tourists are all smart customers.

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