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14/10/2018 - 12:30

Startup from concerns about Hue tourism

From the concerns about Hue tourism, lecturers and students of Faculty of Tourism - Hue University have researched and brought out the project "Bridge to experience indigenous culture with artisans". This is also the project winning the first prize of the “Innovative and Creative Startup Ideas” contest, held by Hue University.

The "Creative Tourism" team won the first prize of the “Innovative and Creative Startup Ideas” contest of Hue University in 2018

From the concerns…

The idea of the project "Bridge to experience indigenous culture with artisans" was conceived in the mind of Mr. Ngo Van Son, M.A., lecturer of the Faculty of Tourism, and his student Phan Thi Thai, who was under his supervision to do a graduation thesis in early 2018, as both were concerned about the status of Hue tourism. They chose creative tourism with the desire to connect visitors and the locals to experience authentically the culture, the cuisine, and traditional craft villages of Hue.

Mr. Ngo Van Son shared that in the process of teaching and experiencing the destinations, he and Thai had met many visitors. One common thing wanted by them was to directly integrate into the destinations’ life, and experience it as members of the local community. Although Hue has experienced tourism, especially community tourism activities, they are mainly staged and performed. Contrarily, many artisans of the traditional craft villages in Hue want to open a service for visitors to join and experience it with them. However, this is pretty hard.

After making a survey, Mr. Son, Thai, and four new members built up a "Creative Tourism" team, and delivered questionnaires to analyze the needs of artisans and visitors. On that basis, they designed a website to connect artisans, destinations and visitors. Mr. Son analyzed that the project idea was based on technology platform. After the artisans join the website, visitors will select the tours themselves via the provided information on the description of the  destinations.

The special feature of this idea is that visitors can experience the reality with artisans, with locals, and traditional craft villages producing Hue's unique products exactly as what they want, and guarantee the quality and prices. The destinations can have the same experiencing forms, so that they can compete with one another so as to improve their service quality. The system uses technology to monitor, and track visitors’ feedbacks and reviews of each destination and brings into public for visitors; thereby, contributing to change the perception of the locals when doing tourism.

"All transactions and feedbacks are quickly made on the technology platform. Visitors are guaranteed various benefits and can take the initiative in everything. The expenses are paid on the system and automatically transferred to the destinations as soon as the experience trip is successful. The project management collect only seven to ten percent of the expenses", Mr. Son said.

According to the team’s representative, the project’s issue is that some artisans and locals in the destinations are not proficient in technology. The solution for this issue is to find the representatives or regional representatives to take care of this task. When connecting to artisans or destinations, the team always hold discussion with them so that they can further understand about the ways to make sustainable tourism, and develop "hard" criteria, especially not to invite visitors with insistence, but to act as “cultural ambassadors”.

Phan Thi Thai, member of the team shared that the project’s advantage was to have members specializing in tourism, business administration and technology. After completing the website, the team will continue to build apps, so that visitors can access more easily. In 2019, they will add language translation, firstly in English to serve foreign visitors.

Prospects

Besides the artisans and destinations (cuisine, and craft villages), the project also connects and creates benefits for accommodation establishments, vehicle rental services (bicycles and motorbikes, depending on visitors’ demand). According to Mr. Son, this project can also be considered as a form of tours sale, but it does not affect tour operators.

“Tour operators serve pre-designed tours, but this is free tours. We will cooperate with these operators to combine the two types of tours if visitors have demand, in order to diversify tourism products,” said Mr. Son.

Mr. Truong Thanh Hung, innovative startup mentor, Co-founder and Executive manager of FiNNO, and jury member of the contest "Innovative and Creative Startup Ideas” held by Hue University in 2018 evaluated: “The project has its uniqueness as it focuses on discovering the identity, and getting values from the artisans. This is the difference from other discovery tours. The contest jury realizes that the potential of this project is large and it can be replicated nationwide. The team has good skill of team-working, its members meet required professional skills to develop a tourism startup project.”

Though the project has not been officially launched, visitors have explored and wanted to book tours. It is expected that by mid-2019, this idea will be completed and officially put into operation. In the coming time, the team will promote the connectivity with the Provincial Department of Tourism for better supports and advises. It will also connect with local authorities to link the destinations and orient the locals’ perception, focusing on the quality of tourism products.

Story and photo: Huu Phuc

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