The Mekong Delta is an endowed land with a temperate climate and a rich ecological system including two biosphere reserves, five national parks and four natural reserves, plus the rich cultures of the Kinh, Chinese Vietnamese, Khmer and Cham ethnic groups. There are also 120 historical, cultural and revolutionary sites, 27 national architectural projects and 211 craft villages, which have together with traditional festivals and folklore songs made the delta an attractive tourist destination.
The Mekong Delta Tourism Association (MDTA) said that the number of tourists had increased for years now and that the delta had received more than 17.4 million visitors in 2011 including more than 1.4 million foreigners, increasing 11.48 percent from 2010 and accounting for about eight percent of all foreign visitors to Vietnam last year. The delta's tourism sector turned over VND3.5 trillion, a 23.68 percent increase from 2010-2011. Tourist destinations in the delta have boomed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The worldwide reputable tourist journal Lonely Planet has recently chosen the Mekong Delta in Vietnam to be one of the top ten valuable destinations in 2012 and has recommended that tourists discover the land with wonderful experiences.
However, tourism experts said as provinces and cities in the delta have similar natural conditions they have launched similar tourist products. Dr Dinh Van Hanh from the Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietnam Sub-institute for Culture and Arts said that similar tours would bore tourists and that local tourism administrators and tour operators should create typical products.
MDTA Chairman Pham Phuoc Nhu spoke highly of companies' efforts to launch tourist products like cruising along the Mekong River to Cambodia, building high-grade resorts by rivers and combining them with inland services. He also said that based on their tourism zoning plans provinces and cities should invest strongly to upgrade and build new regional-standard tourist resorts and to create local typical products to attract tourists.
For this to happen, apart from local policies, businesses need to set up large tourist resorts to draw visitors and to contribute to tourism development. The tourism sector in the delta also needs to encourage domestic and foreign investment projects, said Pham Phuoc Nhu.
Following the Mekong Delta Tourism Development Project until 2020, the delta’s tourism sector will be divided into four groups.
The central group including the city of Can Tho and the provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang and Hau Giang will offer major tourist products such as river tours, business tours, festival tours and high-grade resort tours.
The Ca Mau Peninsula group including the provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Soc Trang will focus on tours to the southernmost of Vietnam, eco tours to salt-marsh forests, and cultural and festival tours related to the culture of the Khmer minority group in Soc Trang.
The eastern coastal group including Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Vinh Long and Tra Vinh will mostly offer river tours, orchard tours, home-stay tours, craft village tours and those to historical and revolutionary sites.
The Dong Thap Muoi group including Long An and Dong Thap provinces will provide major tourist products such as eco tours to flooded forests in Dong Thap Muoi.