Vietnam has about 3,000 craft villages of 53 traditional professions such as sculpture, mosaic, lacquer, rattan, ceramics, embroidery, textile etc. Hanoi claims the majority with more than 1,300 villages. Some tourism activities in crafting villages are still limited and underdeveloped due to poor road infrastructure making it difficult to approach rural villages. Besides, some villages are starting to industrialize, causing disappearance of some professions.
Tourism businesses are keen to develop villages into an important travel product, an attractive destination for visitors but what has been done is still at an insignificant level. There are professions that are gradually disappearing in the process of social development, while villages are turning into cities. Even the management of villages is unclear, some under the Department of Trade and Industry; some manage with cooperation from other agencies. Compared with other regional countries such as Thailand or Malaysia, Vietnam is clearly lagging behind, therefore not being able to develop further.
Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mai Tien Dung said that over the past few years, craft village tourism saw strong development with famous trademarks such as Bat Trang pottery, Van Phuc silk, Phu Vinh bamboo and rattan, and Trieu Khuc weaving.
Every year, the Hanoi Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism organize training courses for Bat Trang people on product design, sales; however, these activities have not been of much help. Artisan Pham Quang Huy of Bat Trang pottery village said those courses did not have real value. Besides, artisans could not live on their profession and hadn’t properly honoured so it’s difficult for them to pass on their profession.
From the perspective of travel agents, in addition to the direct linkage between tourism businesses with villages, it’s also important to pay attention to creating added value for craft villages from their products.
For artisans, art works is their spiritual child born from devotion and affection, therefore art works are always unique, cannot be confused with products elsewhere. What visitors want to see are authentic art works made by artisans and skilled craftsmen. To develop advantages of traditional craft villages as well as its unique identity, it’s crucial for authorities of all levels to establish effective policies to support the development of village tourism to create products attractive to visitors.