In the first five months of 2012, the total number of visitors to Soc Trang was 50,749, reaching 46 percent against the yearly plan, an increase of 14.3 percent over the same period. International arrivals were 3,429, reaching 40 percent of the yearly plan, an increase of 28 percent compared to the same period in 2011. And domestic tourists were 47,320, an increase of 13 percent compared to the same period in 2011. The tourism revenue was VND48,253 billion, reaching 38 percent of the yearly plan, an increase of 47 percent over the first 5 months of 2011.
Being the province located at the end of Mekong River Basin, adjacent to the provinces of Tra Vinh, Vinh Long, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu and the East Sea with the similar features as other provinces in the Mekong Delta region, Soc Trang has its own advantages favourable for tourism development. This is characterised by the convergence of the three ethnic cultures including Viet - Chinese - Khmer with diverse and unique features. Soc Trang is the land of festivals and spiritual cultural tourism with hundreds of pagodas. Especially, there are many famous pagodas visited by domestic and foreign visitors such as Doi Pagoda, Chen Kieu Pagoda, Dat Set Pagoda and Kh'Leang Pagoda.
To be able to take full advantage of the potential and turn the province into one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Mekong Delta, Soc Trang Provincial People's Committee has approved the adjustment of the planning of provincial tourism development to 2015 and vision to 2020. According to Mr Nguyen Tanh, Director of Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Soc Trang province, in order to realize this plan, the province is putting special focus on investment in infrastructure and human resources.
Currently, Soc Trang has 35 operating hotels including one 3-star hotel, seven 2-star hotels, eleven 1-star hotels, eight standard hotels and eight new yet-to be-evaluated hotels. All the hotels have a total of 1,000 rooms, capable of receiving 1,500 to 2,000 tourists. For dining facilities, the province has six restaurants located within hotels, and two restaurants at tourist sites. In addition to dining facilities for business purpose other than tourism services, there are over 400 restaurants and canteens with capacity of over 27,000 seats. All the transport system, electricity, water and telecommunications are in good operation giving favourable conditions to the tourists.” In general, the province's infrastructure and infrastructure for tourism development has been in good condition in recent years and the number of visitors to Soc Trang is on the rise" said Mr Tanh.
To meet the increasing demand of tourists, every year, Soc Trang organizes training courses on professional skills for the tourism sector. With the size of 25-30 students per class, the industry also takes students to visit and learn from the experiences in other provinces, sends officials to attend conferences and trade fairs at home and abroad, or attend professional management and expertise training held by the central agencies to improve management skill and professional qualifications to serve tourism development in the province.
Sharing on the target in 2012, Mr Tanh revealed that Soc Trang province aims to welcome over one million visitors this year. Revenue is estimated at VND126,4 billion. To attract more tourists, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has directed its agencies to strengthen the tourism marketing and promotion, and has released thousands of documents, newsletters, leaflets, tourist maps, VCDs introducing the local tourist destinations. Besides, attention is paid to linking hotels and restaurants in the introduction and marketing for Soc Trang tourism products in the fairs and festivals in and outside the province.
In addition, to attract the investment in tourism, the Department of Culture has published information on two projects calling for investment, namely floating resort tourist site No.2 Song Phung (Long Phu), and Ho Be (Vinh Chau).
To achieve the target of tourist volume, Soc Trang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism continues to improve the quality of products and services in the province through the selection and appreciation of the top services provided to domestic and foreign tourists. Simultaneously, it is essential to maintain and improve the quality of existing tourism products and gradually put into operation the new tourism program focusing on the province's strengths of cultural festival tourism, ecological tourism, and shopping tourism to attract more and more domestic and foreign tourists to Soc Trang.