Known as a successful model of combining sustainable cultural preservation with tourism development, Trang An is also expected to become the "heart" in creating a millennium-old heritage urban area in ancient Hoa Lu.

From an infant sector, the tourism of Ninh Binh has gradually become a highly-appreciated smokeless industry model in Vietnam. Together with focusing on sustainable development, the Northern province has paid attention to preserving the environment while exploiting and making the most of resources, thus generating economic values that benefit the local community.

Rising income from tourism

In March when the weather is cool, tourists flock to the Trang An Landscape Complex, and what makes them impressed the most is the professionalism of service personnel. 

Tourists have a feast for their eyes in Trang An landscapes.

As her boat reached the wharf, 60-year-old woman An Thi Huong in Khe Thuong village (Ninh Xuan commune, Hoa Lu district), politely bid farewell to tourists and quickly prepared life jackets for the next trip, taking tourists to contemplate the Trang An Ecotourism Area.

This was her second boat trip of the day, helping her earn VND 400,000 per day. On peak days, her earning is even higher. Apart from the income, she also has her insurance paid by her travel company. At home, her 63-year-old husband, Luu Van Nam manages a homestay named "Luna Nature" with three guest rooms. Additionally, the family has invested VND 800 million to renovate a nearly 200-year-old ancient house to serve visitors.

Located about 2km away from the Trang An wharf, Khe Thuong village owns a lot of potential for tourism development, especially accommodation services. According to Luu Dinh Vinh, Head of Khe Thuong, the village has 300 households with a population of 1,000 people, and approximately 80% of the them are working in tourism sector. The locality has 20 hotels and homestays, and roads are always clean.

According to Vinh, 20 years ago, Ninh Xuan and Truong Yen used to be the two poorest communes in Hoa Lu district. Locals’ life was difficult since they depended heavily on farming. They couldn't even save VND 7 million/year. However, thanks to tourism development, local residents could save some money in a month, significantly contributing to improving their life.

Human-centered tourism development

During the working trip to Ninh Binh in 2022 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay evaluated that Trang An is one of the most exemplary and outstanding models in the world for the successful combination of sustainable economic and tourism development. Notably, the Trang An Landscape Complex has been selected as one of the three World Heritage sites to pilot a project on sustainable tourism.

Homestay area is harmonious with nature.

With its obtained results, Trang An has proved itself as a renowned domestic and international tourism destination. From over 2.2 million arrivals in 2014, Trang An welcomed more than 4.6 million visitors in 2023, generating a revenue of VND 4.5 trillion. Each resident in the heritage area works as a heritage protector, a tour guide, and an ambassador to bring Trang An closer to international tourists. At present, there are 10,000 and 20,000 people directly and indirectly working in the sector, respectively. 

Forty-one-year-old Bui Thi Chinh in Khe Ha hamlet of Ninh Xuan commune is one of the locals whose living standards are significantly improved thanks to tourism. Previously, Chinh had to work overtime, sometimes for 12 to 14 hours a day, leaving no time to take care of her family and children. Later, she found a job as a Lithophone (Stone musical instrument) player and tourist supporter. The job not only helps her have stable income, but also gives her more time to take care of her family.    

Years ago, Ninh Binh pro-actively built a resident community in the Trang An heritage site, and turned local residents into heritage protectors. According to Director of the Ninh Binh provincial Department of Tourism Bui Van Manh, the province's party committee, authorities, and people persistently consider tourism the core and main pillar for socio-economic development.

Following the principles of green and sustainable development, with nature and culture tourism as the main focus, Ninh Binh has built a safe, friendly, high-quality, and attractive tourism environment. Since 2022, Ninh Binh province has incorporated tourism as one criterion for building new-style rural areas. In the Resolution of the province’s 22nd Party Congress, Ninh Binh has set new goals to become a national and international tourism center.

In the first three months of 2024, Ninh Binh province welcomed 3.9 million visitors, including nearly 340,000 international tourists. The tourism revenue in the first quarter is estimated at VND 3.66 trillion VND, accounting for 44.36% of the set goal for 2024, an increase of nearly 46% compared to the same period in 2023. In 2024, Ninh Binh aims to welcome 7.5 million visitors, including 6.6 million domestic tourists and 900,000 international ones, with an expected revenue of VND 8.25 trillion.

(to be continued)

Translated by Tran Hoai