Cruise tourism yet to take off

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QUAÛNG NINH — Vieät Nam should in­vest more in in­fra­struc­ture, cruise ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties as well as shore itin­er­ar­ies and de­velop unique tourism prod­ucts to tap its cruise tourism po­ten­tial.

The state­ment was made by Vice Chair­man of Vieät Nam Na­tional Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tourism (VNAT) Ngoâ Hoaøi Chung at a sem­i­nar on cruise tourism, held in t he north­ern prov­ince of Quaûng Ninh yes­ter­day.

Cruise tourism has been the fastest grow­ing sec­tor of the travel in­dus­try for the past few years glob­ally. Of­ten cho­sen by wealthy peo­ple, cruise tourism can make a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pact for the lo­cal­ity.

“Sea and is­land t ourism, which in­cludes cruise tourism, is con­sid­ered one of the pri­or­i­ties in t he t ourism devel­op­ment strat­egy of Vieät Nam,” said Chung.

Vieät Nam has numer­ous ad­van­tages to be­come an at­trac­tive cruise tourism des­ti­na­tion with its lo­ca­tion in the cen­tre of South­east Asia, some 3,200 km of coast, more than 3,000 beau- ti­ful is­lands and di­verse and unique cul­ture, said Chung.

How­ever, Vieät Nam has not wit­nessed any con­sid­er­ate up­lift in cruise tourism devel­op­ment.

In the first 11 months of 2018, Vieät Nam wel­comed more than 400,000 cruise tourists, ac­count­ing for only 2 to 3 per cent of to­tal in­ter­na­tional tourists.

The growth rate of cruise tourist num­bers to Vieät Nam is rel­a­tively low com­pared to the to­tal num­ber of tourists and has even de­creased some years.

Vieät Nam still faces chal­lenges in­clud­ing a poor sea­port sys­tem, sub­stan­dard cruise ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties, bad in­fra­struc­ture, unattrac­tive tourism prod­ucts and a lack of long-term ac­tion plans to at­tract cruise tourists, ac­cord­ing to Chung.

The sem­i­nar was held by the VNAT to con­nect travel agen­cies and cruise lines, ex­change ex­pe­ri­ence in cruise tourism devel­op­ment and pro­pose so­lu­tions to de­velop cruise tourism. It at­tracted more than 100 par­tic­i­pants in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from De­part­ments of Tourism of prov­inces, De­part­ments of Bor­der Gate, the Min­istry of Trans­port, in­ter­na­tional cruise lines and Viet­namese travel agen­cies.

To make Vieät Nam a vi­able cruise des­ti­na­tion, the coun­try should im­prove its itin­er­ar­ies, cruise fa­cil­i­ties and shore ex­cur­sions, said Ah­mad Ka­mal Bin Ab­dol­lah, man­ager of Cruise Port Devel­op­ment of the NV Ter­mi­nals in Malaysia.

“The var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions within Vieät Nam have a solid mix of ex­cur­sion of­fer­ings. The chal­lenge re­mains in de­vel­op­ing new fa­cil­i­ties at these des­ti­na­tions and where such fa­cil­i­ties are not op­ti­mal, im­prov­ing the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence such that the in­con­ve­nience is mi­nor and the re­wards are great,” said Ab­dol­lah.

Vuõ Duy Vuõ from Saigon­tourist sug­gested visa pro­ce­dures be sim­pli­fied and made more flex­i­ble for cruise tourists.

The VNAT should also at­tend more in­ter­na­tional cruise fairs and sem­i­nars to pro­mote Vieät Nam’s cruise tourism, learn from the in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and stay up­dated on global trends, he added. — VNS AM­MAN — When Rabee Shrouf put on his first pair of bal­let shoes two years ago, he knew he had found his call­ing. The Jor­da­nian’s life­long dream was to be on stage and as a bal­let dancer in Am­man, he wanted to shat­ter stereo­types along the way.

“When you are im­mersed in the world you love, ev­ery­thing around you dis­ap­pears,” the 22year-old said. “This is what it feels like when I’m on stage.”

Shrouf, who dances in his spare time while study­ing lan­guages and trans­la­tion at univer­sity, is one of few male dancers in Jor­dan, where his hobby of­ten car­ries a so­cial stigma for men.

“Why did I choose bal­let? Be­cause it is a very dif­fi­cult art form, one of the most dif­fi­cult in the world,” he said.

The youngest of six chil­dren, Shrouf grew up in an artis­tic house­hold. His fa­ther was a singer and mu­si­cian who en­cour­aged his per­form­ing dreams.

But while con­fi­dent danc­ing on stage, Shrouf has strug­gled telling peo­ple about his bal­let pas­sion, wor­ried how it would be per­ceived. He has faced some pres­sure to pur­sue other in­ter­ests, but has re­fused to give bal­let up.

“If you don’t pur­sue what you love, and if you don’t per­sist and be­lieve in your­self, then those around you will not be­lieve in you,” he said.

Shrouf last week danced in a show di­rected and chore­ographed by Ra­nia Kamhawi, who founded Jor­dan’s first bal­let and con­tem­po­rary dance com­pany, MISK, in 1996.

Kamhawi, who trained in bal- let in Bri­tain, said bal­let was grow­ing among Jor­da­nian au­di­ences, who usu­ally pre­fer per­for­mances by folk­lore or con­tem­po­rary dance groups.

“There is a niche au­di­ence that loves bal­let, but what I have no­ticed is that there is a huge au­di­ence for folk­lore,” she said. “So we are in­cor­po­rat­ing tech­niques from folk­lore into bal­let in or­der make it more lively and at­tract a wider au­di­ence.”

To­day, MISK, which puts on shows at least once a year, counts 12 dancers. Shrouf is the only man.

“It’s a world­wide prob­lem, not just in Jor­dan but I think this stigma is fad­ing with the emer­gence of (tele­vi­sion) shows like ‘So you think you can Dance’,” Kamhawi said of the lack of male bal­let dancers. “This is break­ing some old stereo­types.”

Shrouf hopes to form a male dance group, even if he ac­knowl­edges he may have to hang up his bal­let shoes for a more tra­di­tional ca­reer: “I won’t give up, I will con­tinue to work hard and pur­sue what I love.” — REUTERS


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