Sunday, 11/06/2023 08:00

Sơn La holds potential to be world's top natural destination

Nậm Nghiệp Hamlet in Mường La District of Sơn La is known for its white Sơn Tra flowers. In recent years, Sơn La's tourism sector has put its focus on the province's stunning natural landscape. VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Quyết

by Bảo Ngọc

With its incredible tea plantations, breathtaking nature trails, rugged hills, and diverse ethnic minorities, the Northwest province of Sơn La is something of a shining gem in the country, but until recently, it has not truly made waves on the tourist map.

But this is changing fast, and the clean, green province is now seen as one of the world's top destinations, with people visiting from every corner of the globe.

Sơn La, one of the highest provinces in the north, offers chilly and fresh surroundings that are ideal for relaxing holidays, where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of stressful urban life. It is rich in cultural treasures and characteristics that leave tourists in awe. Given the province's wealth of natural resources, tourism has emerged as a key economic driver. A visit here, is simply like no other.

Tourism products of all kinds, including those for recreation, wellness, training, discovery, and spirituality are a major area of development in the area. In recent years, the province has identified tourism as an area yet to be explored and is reaching out to investors to help map out possible areas to put money into the local economy.

Untapped potential

A conference to boost connections to promote the value of the province as a world leading natural destination was recently hosted by the People's Committee of Sơn La as part of the province's Cultural Tourism Festival this year.

Leaders from the National Administration of Tourism, the Department of Tourism of Quảng Ninh Province, the Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in eight Northwest provinces, provinces associated with development cooperation in Sơn La, tourism associations, and more than 30 tourism businesses, operators, and cooperatives attended the conference.

Expertise in creating professional tourism products was debated and shared at the event, leading to the creation of new tourism products and tours that have helped boost the industry across Việt Nam in general and the Northwest region in particular.

A visitor poses with blossoming white plum flowers in Mu Náu Valley, Mộc Châu District. VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt

Some delegates highlighted solutions to enhance the attractiveness of Sơn La's Mộc Châu District  the world's top regional natural destination – as well as promoting the Mộc Châu National Tourist Area more extensively.

According to Phùng Quang Thắng, vice chairman of the Việt Nam Travel Association, the province must first establish links within destinations as well as with tourist service providers and local people to build a colourful and clear vision for Mộc Châu tourism.

"To optimally exploit Sơn La's potential, it is necessary to foster connections between travellers in other regions and international connections. In addition, Sơn La's tourism sector should increase the use of technology, particularly to increase destination management efficiency," Thắng said.

"Sơn La's tourism must also pay special attention to environmental conservation and develop a comprehensive, genuine strategy with the active involvement of the local destination management agency." 

CLOUDY: At the peak of Sơn La's Tà Xùa Mountain, sightseers take in the breathtaking panorama. VNA/VNS Photo
GREEN RETREAT: Vistors pose in a flowers garden at Happy Land in Sơn La's Mộc Châu District. Homestays and tourist areas in Sơn La are situated in natural settings to maximise the experiences of tourists. VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Cường

Vice Chairman of the Sơn La Tourism Association Lê Văn Hưu is certain that the province can accommodate the demands of both local and international visitors thanks to its various attractions. However, the province has to prioritise investing funds in infrastructure and increasing human resources to achieve the quality needed to meet standards.

"Media advancement must be on par with service quality to avoid situations in which visitors come once out of curiosity but never return," Hưu said.

"Furthermore, product investment should focus on leveraging the distinctive indigenous cultural aspects, explicitly outlining the building of tourism locations and creating a good fit for each category of visitor."  

Positive signals

Sơn La's tourist industry has developed throughout the years, capitalising on the area's tremendous natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Ecotourism, resorts, and community-based tourism are all represented here.

The Mộc Châu National Tourist Area, Bạch Long glass bridge, Mộc Châu night market, Quỳnh Nhai tourist area, and Tà Xùa are just a few examples of the many tourist sites and attractions that lure domestic and foreign tourists alike to the magical northwestern province.

SACRED: Cultural and spiritual tourist area in Quỳnh Nhai District, Sơn La Province. VNA/VNS Photo

Recognition in 2022 as "The World's Leading Regional Nature Destination" at a recent World Travel Awards has contributed to the consistently rising number of visitors to Sơn La. 

Visitors to Sơn La reached an estimate of 3.3 million people, with revenue at nearly VNĐ3 trillion  last year.

In the first five months of 2023 alone, the number of tourist arrivals was more than 2 million, with total revenue at more than VNĐ2 trillion.

The culture, sports and tourism authority of Sơn La hopes that the National Administration for Tourism (NAT) will continue to pay attention to and assist in tourism development activities in the province.

In particular, the provincial tourism authority also hopes that NAT will help complete the four remaining criteria and compile a dossier for recognition of Mộc Châu National Tourist Area in 2023; add the province to the list of potential areas to develop into a national tourist area; and support the promotion of tourism in the province. VNS

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