Kon Tum is a poor province, situated in the northern end of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Its tourism is new and in early stage of development. Most of the tourist attractions here are pristine, not greatly affected by environment and human. Besides, the local people are very hospitable. These two factors can be considered as strengths of Kon Tum tourism.
gong dance showAccording to 2020 Vietnam tourism development strategies and 2030 vision, the Central Highlands region is one of the seven tourist regions nationwide. The region has its own specific characteristics in natural conditions and unique indigenous culture, which can create particular tourist products filled with Vietnamese cultural identity. Kon Tum has planned “Project to adjust overall plan for Kon Tum development and orient by 2020”. Kon Tum possesses various native cultural values and special tourist products. This place is also a home of six ethnic groups such as Sedang, Bahnar, Jarai, Gie Trieng, Brau, Ro Mam, etc. Each group has its own features, customs and belief, creating diversified cultural values of the northern end of the Central Highlands. More importantly, one of the dominant values that cannot be neglected is “Space of Gong Culture”. The UNESCO recognized it as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and 2 set of Tha Gong of Brau of Kon Tum Province proudly appears in the list.
Statistically, in recent years, the number of tourists come to Kon Tum tourist attractions – which are permitted to visit according to Decision No. 138/ QĐ-UBND of Provincial People’s Committee issued on December 3rd, 2003 – has been greatly increasing than the last years.
Growth rate of tourism is quite high, especially in the flow of international tourists. Growth rate in the period of 2010-2015 is estimated to reach 30.7%. The number of international tourists in 2001 was just 1,337 arrivals, while the number was 66.403 arrivals in 2013, increasing 49.67 times. The place is ideal for community-based tourism development because Western visitors tend to choose non-polluted destinations, closely related to ecosystem. Therefore, sustainable tourism has drawn the visitors’ attention and become a new trend. Asia-Pacific region is a top choice of worldwide tourism in near future. In order to boost the competitiveness with countries in the region in general and with other provinces in Vietnam in particular, Kon Tum tourism is required to develop special services connected with sustainable development.
Although the numbers are so small comparing to other neighbors or other provinces in the region, they show that Kon Tum tourism has become more and more interesting in the eyes of domestic visitors and international visitors. Tourists come to Kon Tum with the main aim of experiencing cultural tourism, ecotourism, holidays, recreation and visiting places such as: Yaly Lake, Mang Den ecotourism site, Bo Y border gate economy site, and do research about typical ecosystem: Chu Mom Ray National Park, Ngọc Linh Nature Reserve, Đăk Uy Special Use Forest, Vietnam cultural values, directing towards origin, etc,.
It can be said that Kon Tum tourism attract tourists by famous historic sites such as: Kon Tum Prison historic site, Đăk Glei Prison historic site, Hill 42 Base; Phoenix airport; Charlie Hill; Đăk Tô – Tân Cảnh historic site; Plei Kần historic site; Măng Đen historic site; 601 historic site, Đông Dương T-junction và Hồ Chí Minh Path. These sites annually attract a large flow of visitors from both inside and outside the country. They come there to visit and to know more about traditions to fight the enemy and defend the country of ethnic groups in Kon Tum.
In general, getting the concerns from the authorities, the conservative and maintenance activities have been focused, helping to timely repair degrading historic sites which hold a high rate of neglect. When coming to these sites, tourists can feel and visualize the steel spirit and iron will of communists behind the bars in French colonialists prisons although the sites has been seriously destroyed through the time, just remaining a frame.
Every year, Kon Tum attracts a large number of tourists for visiting cultural sites, which have unique architecture and religious belief such as Wooden Church, Bishop’s Palace, Bác Ái Pagoda, Kon Klor Bridge, Rong House of ethnic groups, etc. and also for enjoying local cuisines, native songs, traditional dances, etc,.
Kon Tum holds not only great potential for ecotourism but also strengths for cultural tourism with a lot of historic sites and traditional villages, which are famous for pristine stilt houses maintained by local generations. These are attractive services for visitors from near and far, from domestic tourists to international tourists.
Today, in the itinerary of best-selling tours of the provincial travel agencies, indigenous culture villages appear in most of them. And gong shows at night performed by local people are a must in the tour list. These tours attract a large number of domestic and international visitors. It is the gong shows that serve as the important highlights in tourism program when tourists come to Kon Tum. Over the past years, the sites where tourists come and feel satisfied the most can include Kon Kơ Tu, Kon Jơ Ri, Kon Klor 2 of Đăk Rơ Wa commune, Kon Tum City, Plei Lay village, Plei Bua village, Plei Weh village of Ya Chim Kon Tum City, Kon Du, Kon Bil, Kon Sơ Kôi, Kon Vi Vang of Tân Lập, Kon Rẫy district, Kon Tum KơPâng village – Thống Nhất ward, Kon Tum KơNâm village – Thống Nhất ward, KonRờBàng village, KonHơNgo KơTu village – Vinh Quang commune, Đăk Răng village, Đắk Mế village of Ngọc Hồi district, etc,. Besides, some villages has been recently added to the itinerary but they have not become tourist attractions, such as Kon Tileo village of Kon Rẫy district; Ngọc Réo commune, Đăk Cấm commune, Kon Tum city; Hiếu commune, Măng Cành commune of Kon Plông district, etc,.
In addition, tourism services of Kon Tum attracting a large number of visitors have made a great contribution to the provincial tourism budget. The services can name City tour, Trekking.
According to the catalogue of Kon Tum tourism, there are 32 historic sites, 3 revolutionary history sites, and 2 ecosystem sites. At the district level, there are 36 historic sites, 7 revolutionary history sites and 19 resort sites.
In the coming years, Kon Tum tourism will ask People’s Committee for issuing a new catalogue for tourism sites that are permitted for tourists to visit and stay. Moreover, these sites must be suitable for local development and fixed standards of Tourism Laws. The tourism continues to develop and complete document for tourism sites in the province and grade the attractions of each sites in order to get enough information to conserve, maintain and promote the image of tourism products.