Heritage values of Trang An Landscape Complex for green tourism development
Ninh Binh province has planned to develop heritage tourism products in the Trang An Landscape Complex in order to tap its potential for the provincial socio-economic development.
Trang An Landscape Complex received 4.6 million tourist arrivals in 2023__Photo: Duc Phuong/VNA

Bearing the natural and humanity advantages of Hoa Lu ancient capital along with the outstanding global geological, geomorphic, natural landscape and cultural values, the development of heritage tourism products in Trang An Landscape Complex not only meets tourists’ sightseeing needs and helps boost tourism economy, but also demonstrates the responsibility for conserving and promoting cultural and historical values ​​and interprets heritage values ​​in a truthful, vivid and scientific manner to ensure that these important values will be passed down to future generations, according to Vice Chairman of Ninh Binh provincial People’s Committee Tran Son Tung.

Ninh Binh province has planned to develop heritage tourism products in the Trang An Landscape Complex in order to tap its potential for the provincial socio-economic development.

The Trang An Landscape Complex was recognized by the UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site in June 2014, becoming the first mixed cultural and natural property in Vietnam. The property embraces the Hoa Lu ancient capital, Trang An-Tam Coc-Bich Dong scenic landscape, and Hoa Lu special-use forest on 6,226 hectares. It is surrounded by a buffer zone of 6,026 hectares. The Complex consists of classical karst cones and towers and a network of enclosed depressions connected by an intricate system of subterranean waterways, some of which are navigable by small boats. The blend of towering mountains draped in natural rain forests, with large internal basins and narrow cave passages containing quietly flowing waters, creates an extraordinarily beautiful and tranquil landscape.

The Trang An Landscape Complex is an outstanding locale in Southeast Asia, for demonstrating the way prehistoric humans interacted with the natural landscape and adapted to major changes in climatic, geographical and environmental conditions over a continuous period of more than 30,000 years. It was the shelter of the first capital of Dai Co Viet (Great Viet) State (a former name of Vietnam) in the 10th century and the palace of the Tran dynasty during the fight against the Mongol-Yuan invaders in the 13th century.

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lam Ba Nam, President of the Vietnam Association of Ethnology and Anthropology, the Trang An Landscape Complex is known as not only a unique landscape but also a cultural heritage associated with the process of human habitation in this land for tens of thousands of years, thus creating special attractions for tourists as well as natural, social and humanity scientists at home and abroad.

With the Trang An Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh province has become a bright spot on Vietnam’s travel map and been among the top 10 provinces with the highest number of tourists.

In 2023, the hospitality sector welcomed some 6.5 million visitors and raked in a profit of VND 6.5 trillion (USD 260 million). Worthy of note, Ninh Binh was among the top five tourist spots with the highest number of tourists and second in the country in terms of foreign holiday makers during Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival.

Although the number of tourists to Ninh Binh province has increased rapidly since the Trang An Landscape Complex has been recognized as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, the main destination in the cultural tourism market segment was only the Hoa Lu ancient capital area. At present, tourists often take boat rides to visit temples and pagodas in the Complex, and attend cultural events and festivals. However, archaeological and historical tours are not yet available.

Therefore, experts and scientists have put forth solutions to develop the heritage potential into tourist property, turning the province into a national tourism hub based on heritage values in which the cultural industry and heritage economy are the backbone for the construction of a green, circular economy to serve the local community and national development.

Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Prehistory Nguyen Viet has proposed the scientificization and popularization of geological, archaeological, historical and ethnographic research results. He also suggested reconstructing human and animal portraits with state-of-the-art scientific methods based on excavated bones and developing scientific research results into special tourism products.

Meanwhile, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Tan Van from the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources suggested the introduction of geological heritage values of the Trang An Landscape Complex together with cultural, natural and biodiversity heritage values ​​in normal tours, or separately in thematic tours to geological heritage sites conserved exclusively for scientific research.

Dr. Le Thi Lien from the Vietnam Archaeological Association suggested developing tours to prehistoric sites with interpretive contents about the history of their formation and scientific significance and tours to archaeological relics for visitors. Such sightseeing routes can be combined with underground in-situ conservation relics or ancient citadels, existing structures on the ground, and sites related to notable historical figures or events, she added.

A bird’s eye view of Trang An Landscape Complex__Photo: Thuy Dung/VNA

To make the above suggestions into reality, experts emphasize the necessity to adopt appropriate methods and have the State’s facilitative role, enterprises’ pioneering role and the community’s active participation. The State needs to formulate a legal framework and provide opportunities for concerned parties to take part in sustainable tourism development.

The provincial Tourism Department will revise mechanisms and policies for attracting more investment in, and formulate a legal framework on, the conservation of cultural heritages and bringing into play their value.

It will have to adopt mechanisms and policies for the locals to jointly protect and conserve intangible cultural heritages in association with the development of local agricultural products.

The department will also work out master plans on heritage conservation followed by specific plans, projects and roadmaps on conservation of heritage values.-


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