The Central Highlands consists of the five provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong.
At the event, held in Buon Ma Thuot city of Dak Lak, participants said the region is home to enormous resources, from land, forests, temperate climate to biodiversity in such national parks as Chu Yang Sin (Dak Lak), Kon Ka Kinh (Gia Lai), Chu Mom Ray (Kon Tum) and Bidoup Nui Ba (Lam Dong). It also boasts unique tangible and intangible cultural heritages like festivals and the space of gong culture of ethnic minorities like Ede, M’Nong, Ba Na, Xe Dang, Jarai and K’ho.
All have contributed to the huge potential for developing cultural and ecological tourism, they noted.
However, participants also pointed to the fact that Central Highlands provinces have yet to capitalise on these types of tourism, and there are certain shortcomings relevant to tourism development connectivity, transport infrastructure, value chains of tourism products and environmental protection.
Dr Nguyen Huy Phong from the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics said the Central Highlands is home to unique tangible and intangible cultural heritages that cannot be found anywhere else.
To tap into local tourism potential, the provinces should boost cultural heritage preservation, encourage local residents to engage in community-based tourism, and raise all-level authorities’ awareness of the role of cultural and ecological tourism in socio-economic development, he suggested.
Meanwhile, Dr Le Van Nghia from the political and internal affairs board of the Dak Lak provincial Party Committee said each province needs mechanisms and policies matching their specific conditions. The localities should boost administrative reforms to facilitate investment in tourism development. They also need to create typical tourism products like traditional festivals and tours to experience the life of local ethnic minorities so as to attract visitors.
Stressing the importance of sustainability in cultural and ecological tourism, Dr Vu Thinh Truong from the Ho Chi Minh City-based Van Hien University noted tourism development should not be left uncontrolled, or it could lead to the disintegration of traditional cultural values.
The provinces need to have systematic plans so that tourism can generate economic benefits while still helping to preserve and bring into play cultural identities of local ethnic groups, he added.