“People in craft villages have not been equipped with necessary knowledge on tourism marketing and making interesting products to attract tourists. When visiting craft villages, tourists do not understand history and living style of local people, thus, do not feel impressed. Hence, craft villages in Hanoi are facing many difficulties to attract tourists,” said Nguyen Trong Tu, the deputy chairman of the Hanoi Travel Club.
According to the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, there are 1,350 craft villages in Hanoi. Among those 200 are traditional craft villages, one fourth of which are century old. With rich cultural and historical values, those craft villages have a great potential to develop tourism. However, those advantages have not been exploited.
Over more than 10 years since the city started exploiting tourism potential in craft villages, this fertile land seems to remain untouched. When looking at tours to Hanoi offered by travel agents, we can easily find that Bat Trang pottery village and Van Phuc silk village are the two unique villages in their itineraries. Although other craft village have been paid attention by the government, local authorities and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, craft village tourism in those villages have not been exploited yet.
Explaining this situation, Nguyen Anh Tuan, the deputy head of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that traditional craft villages are considered as an important tourism resource. Products made in craft villages have tangible and intangible values. However, due to lack of sound development directions, craft villages have not promoted their advantages. Meanwhile, homestay tours in craft villages are a popular choice of international tourists. Many localities in the country have adopted this kind of tourism successfully. When taking homestay tours in craft villages, apart from sightseeing and shopping, tourists can take part in producing handicraft products. Thanks to this service, Bat Trang pottery village and Van Phuc silk village have lure a large number of tourists.
However, those villages are facing difficulties. In Bat Trang pottery village, Le Xuan Pho, the chairman of the Bat Trang Commune Craft Village Association, said that Bat Trang have been provided capital to build a synchronized infrastructure system. There are some bus routes from Hanoi to Bat Trang. There is also a wharf which create favorable for tourists who want to visit the village by waterway. Annually, the village welcomes a large number of tourists. However, when there are too many tourists visiting the village, local people are very worried. Sometimes, the village welcomes 2,000-3,000 tourists at the same time. Many foreign tourists want to stay overnight in the village, however, the local authorities can not meet their demand due to lack of accommodations.
Like Bat Trang, Van Phuc silk village is an ancient village with small streets. Sometimes buses which take tourists to the villages create traffic jams. The village still lacks construction works serving tourists demand. Hence, the village has not effectively exploited its tourism potential.
According to many tourism experts, Hanoi craft village tourism has not been developed due to unprofessional tourism service style. People pay special attention to craft village tourism, however, they do not know how to promote it. Insufficient tourism knowledge, poor communications skills and unattractive handicraft products are the biggest challenges for those people to attract tourists.
Nguyen Trong Tu said that to attract more tourists, apart from helping people in craft villages to enrich their knowledge of product marketing, professional services and comprehensive infrastructure system are an important factor.
Truong Minh Tien, the deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, thought that to effectively exploit craft village tourism potential, it is necessary for travel agents, the Hanoi Travel Club and local craft village associations to work together to look for methods to overcome difficulties. In addition, local authorities and related departments should create favorable conditions for craft villages to promote infrastructure system and make a proper plan on craft village development. Building showrooms in craft villages is a good method to attract tourists