Ecotourism Development: The Case of Vietnam

Thi Nhu Hoa Le (2012). Ecotourism Development: The Case of Vietnam PhD Thesis, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland.

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Author Thi Nhu Hoa Le
Thesis Title Ecotourism Development: The Case of Vietnam
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Pramod Sharma
Total pages 320
Total colour pages 53
Total black and white pages 267
Language eng
Subjects 050205 Environmental Management
150603 Tourism Management
150699 Tourism not elsewhere classified
Abstract/Summary Since the early 1990s, with the ‘Doi Moi” program, Vietnam has become a new tourist destination for the world due to its magnificent landscape, abundant biodiversity and distinctive culture. Vietnamese government has accommodated their young tourism industry substantially, especially once they have considered it to be a spearhead for the economy. Ecotourism was then considered as one key focus of the national tourism development strategy. The author conducted a thorough study of ecotourism in Vietnam which revealed that it is still at the early stage of its development. What currently is available under its name is questionable, so is the implementation of its principles. This is not favourable as ecotourism has been introduced to the country more than ten years ago, together with the acknowledgment and support of the government for its potential role in nature conservation and local community development. Weaknesses in government’s governance, insufficient and inefficient guidelines and regulations, enterprises’ low capacity in management and operation, and the continually increasing numbers of visitors oriented towards conventional tourism ventures have been the main causes for the low quality of ecotourism in the country. From this perspective, it is argued that there is a need of a model with tools which enable interested entities to develop ecotourism with high quality products and adhere to its principles in consideration of Vietnamese context. These interested entities are not just limited to the business sector but include organisations that wish to develop and promote ecotourism in Vietnam, which are addressed as enterprises in this dissertation. Amongst the stakeholders, the government, enterprises and local communities are the ones to influence ecotourism the most. However, with their low education level and socioeconomic status, local communities are much weaker than the other two groups, in terms of shaping ecotourism development. On the other hand, the government, with the leading position in its political structure, is supposed to, but fail in, taking on leadership in developing ecotourism. There is evidence of weakness in their capacity in ecotourism institutionalisation, governance and development. Hence, enterprises are the most influential stakeholder currently on how ecotourism is established. The main problems that enterprises have encountered are insufficiency of qualified human resource, lack of expertise and access to knowledge of what to do in establishing and operating an ecotourism business. Being practical as well as providing more opportunities for the research results to be implemented, this research has taken enterprises as its target for the provision of effective and efficient guidance and framework for ecotourism development. Due to Vietnam’s unique political, economic and social conditions, its current lack of national ecotourism development policy, strategy and legislative framework, the straightforward transfer of other available international ecotourism operational frameworks would be not appropriate to the country’s circumstances. This dissertation contributes to the knowledge of ecotourism planning and development in Vietnam by providing a thorough understanding of the current conditions, the influencing factors and developmental tendencies of ecotourism in the country. With the implementation of stakeholder theory for the first time in ecotourism enterprise research in Vietnam, this dissertation summarises existing knowledge of the roles of key stakeholders and builds a conceptual framework of enterprises’ operation that contributes to deeper levels of understanding of the machination powering ecotourism Using stakeholder theory as the foundation, this research proposes an Operational Model that considers and evaluates both influencing external and internal factors of ecotourism enterprises. The four components: Development Directions, Influencing Factor Analysis Structure, Guiding and Evaluative Framework, and Guidelines complement each other and are not staying still and separately but rather form a dynamic unit that results in the Operational Model. This Operational Model can provide useful, result-oriented knowledge that enterprises have been looking for in ecotourism management and operation, while aspiring to not compromise its principles and considering the reality of tourism environment in Vietnam. It also provides users opportunities of self-learning and being pro-active in the process of ecotourism development. It was structured to be easily comprehended and implemented, to cope with enterprises’ weaknesses in human resource and lack of ecotourism expertise. The Operational Model can be used by entities that strive to establish ecotourism business and are committed to its principles.
Keyword Vietnam
ecotourism principles
ecotourism development
operational model
influencing factors
stakeholder collaboration
Additional Notes Colour page numbers: 27, 41, 48, 57, 63, 71, 72, 82, 84, 95, 118, 121, 124, 129, 130, 131, 138, 141, 147, 167, 170, 173, 174, 175, 186, 187, 188, 189, 196, 197, 198, 199, 202, 203, 206, 207, 217, 219, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, 229, 230, 232, 233, 246, 263, 274, 278 Landscape page numbers: 58, 102, 107-112, 177-184, 209-215, 235-243, 267-273

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Created: Fri, 09 Mar 2012, 11:55:15 EST by Ms Thi Nhu Hoa Le on behalf of Library - Information Access Service