With its well-preserved cultural diversity and intact natural habitats, Vietnam has become a popular tourist destination among outdoor enthusiasts. Each year, millions visit the country to experience the picturesque coastlines, wildlife-filled forests and serene mountains with breathtaking peak-top views, and whether the guests realize it or not, their presence has a direct impact on the country. Take a moment to become familiar with the impacts of tourism before you visit Vietnam to maximize the benefits and prevent potential negative effects you may have on the country.
Although the tourism industry in Vietnam is still developing, it plays a key economic role in the country. Tourism attracts foreign investment and creates jobs. It also provides investment opportunities for small business owners. Shifting the Vietnamese workforce from agriculture to the services industry created by tourism growth presents the potential for higher disposable incomes and reduced poverty. Tourism in Vietnam benefits the hotel, construction and retail sectors as well as other service-oriented industries. A service-based economy requires higher education levels than a subsistence agricultural economy, since tourism sector jobs include receptionists, clerks and tour guides who must interact with the public and keep precise business documents. Seeking locally owned and operated businesses directs the most money to local economies.
Vietnam’s diverse culture includes over 50 distinct ethnic minority groups, who account for approximately 14 percent of population. Ethnic minority groups tend to live in remote mountainous regions of the central part of the country or coastal river deltas and have preserved their cultures for generations. Tourists visit to experience both pristine wildlife and traditional Vietnamese culture, which generates income for the communities. Negative cultural impacts on these communities resulting from contact with the outside world include possible loss of cultural practices to new ideas; introduction of illicit drugs, prostitution practices and communicable diseases; and land displacement due to tourist accommodation development. Instead of large commercial resorts, look for locally run guesthouses to tread lightly on the communities you visit.
While nature-based tourism provides substantial incentive for environmental preservation, numerous negative environmental impacts result from the unmanaged influx of visitors in an area. Without proper infrastructure, litter and other types of pollution worsen--eateries opened to accommodate tourists have no way to dispose of waste properly, and resorts and hotels are known to release untreated sewage into waterways. If visitors are not educated about beneficial environmental practices, they can cause habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity. Freshwater shortages are also common in areas with increased tourism and minimal management practices. Patronize vendors who emphasize environmentally conscious practices, and avoid areas know for over-tourism or marked environmental degradation.
Article Written By Jennifer King
Jennifer King has written and edited since 1994, and now works as a business technical writer. Her articles appear on GardenGuides, eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. King has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies, coursework in yoga and certifications in nutrition and childhood development.