Agritourism is on the rise in Vietnam

Agritourism is on the rise in Vietnam

Agricultural tourism can be a catalyst for holistic rural development according to RMIT Senior Program Manager for Tourism and Hospitality Management Dr Jackie Ong.

The emerging global phenomenon of agritourism has found a fitting home in Vietnam, a country characterised by extensive agricultural landscapes and a predominantly rural population constituting 62.7% (source: Statista). Vietnam's rich cultural heritage, intertwined with a tradition of rice cultivation and vast orchards, sets the stage for this flourishing industry.

Agritourism encompasses tourism activities centred around agriculture, farmers, and rural landscapes. It can provide a comprehensive, immersive experience that is entertaining and educational.

two cyclists taking pictures while stopping between some paddy fields A scenic cycling route through paddy fields in Northern Vietnam (Photo: Unsplash)

Recently, Vietnam has seen a surge in agricultural tourism. Local governments, organisations, and individuals have invested in leveraging agricultural elements to develop culturally rich tourism products that meet tourist preferences. Utilising local food, beverages, handicrafts, and fruits elevates the experience.

In Northern Vietnam, tours highlight rice cultivation and traditional crafts, like the Cultural Rice Fields Experience and Heritage Trail in Duong Lam Ancient Village, Hanoi. In the Central and Highlands regions, offerings showcase agricultural diversity, like the Ethnic Minority Village Tour in Nam Giang District, Quang Nam Province. High-tech agricultural tourism has seen significant tourist growth across different localities as well.

Despite limited statistics, reports indicate growing participation in agricultural tourism, fostering income and economic development. Moreover, agritourism can play a pivotal role in preserving cultural identity. By infusing educational elements into agritourism experiences, visitors gain a deeper understanding of the traditions and culture, and the importance of sustainable practices, fostering a more meaningful connection with the destination.

This mutually beneficial interaction creates a sense of community and understanding between farmers and tourists, making agritourism a catalyst for holistic and sustainable rural development. 

Tourists on a boat tour of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (Photo: Pexels) Tourists on a boat tour of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (Photo: Pexels)

However, several challenges are impeding the realisation of agritourism to its full potential in Vietnam. One prominent issue lies in the realm of product development. Despite the country's rich resources, the current landscape of agricultural tourism lacks a professional touch. Activities often emerge on a small, spontaneous scale, lacking a cohesive brand strategy. This has resulted in tourism products that struggle to captivate visitors' interests.

Agricultural tourism also faces service quality challenges, with many local farmers lacking the requisite skills for professional hospitality. This deficiency translates into simple and underexploited tourism products, limiting the potential for visitor spending. The scarcity of high-quality offerings and lack of comprehensive services further hinder the sector's growth.

Connectivity issues pose a third challenge as collaboration between travel businesses and agricultural destinations remains constrained. This limitation inhibits the creation of integrated and appealing tourism products, both domestically and internationally.

The shopping experience within agricultural tourism has its own set of challenges. Products often lack branding and attractive packaging, contributing to visitor hesitancy about quality and safety. Additionally, insufficient presentation and demonstration of production processes dampen the overall shopping experience.

Human resource shortages, especially in service-oriented roles, present a fifth challenge. The limited availability of skilled labour impacts the delivery of high-quality and innovative agricultural tourism experiences. A dearth of training in operational management for agricultural destinations and craft villages exacerbates these constraints.

Lastly, promotional and marketing efforts for agricultural tourism are deemed insufficient and non-specialised. Current strategies primarily focus on general tourism promotion, neglecting the distinct appeal of agricultural tourism products.

So, how can Vietnam navigate such challenges and position itself as a leader in agricultural tourism? Read the article “Cultivating success in agritourism” to find out more.

Story: Dr Jackie Ong, Senior Program Manager, Tourism and Hospitality Management, The Business School, RMIT University Vietnam 

  • Tourism & Hospitality

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