12 Oct 2009
When Vietnam’s government was looking to up-skill its public servants and give them a taste of the world outside Vietnam, it looked to New Zealand and AUT University.
This month, 20 Vietnam government officials took part in a short course focusing on urban planning and tourism development.
The course was run through AUT, and hosted by AUT’s Institute of Public Policy (IPP) and New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI).
NZTRI Director Professor Simon Milne says the focus of the programme was looking at how to plan, manage and develop urban tourism but with a focus on sustainability.
“We looked at how to manage urban tourism in such a way that it will generate economic benefits to local people without compromising or degrading the cultural or environmental resources that the tourism industry depends on,” Professor Milne says.
“Tourism is growing rapidly in Vietnam, so it has become a big issue for them. A lot of the Vietnam product is of course beaches and jungles, but a big part is urban. Cities like Hanoi are under immense pressure from tourism. The city is an UNESCO cultural heritage site, but with the number of tourists and business trying to sell to tourists, it creates a number of urban planning issues and problems that have to be addressed if that industry is to be sustained.”
Professor Milne says that while New Zealand’s tourism industry is very different to that in Vietnam, there are some things we can help with.
“Obviously Auckland is very different to Hanoi, but despite those differences we are all seeking the international tourism dollar and we are all marketing to the international tourism market, and we are all managing and trying to cope with tourism numbers both domestic and international.”
During the two week course, the government officials heard about a range of issues confronting metropolitan development throughout the Asia Pacific region; different approaches to urban planning; different sustainable development strategies; the links between development issues for urban areas as places to live as well as destinations for tourists.
AUT Director of International Development Chris Hawley says AUT has been very active within Vietnam for over 15 years, and that he hopes this training will be the start of a positive educational relationship between the university and the government in Vietnam.
“In addition to the 20 officials over doing the tourism course we also have another group of 20 studying English for six months. This course should be the first of many,” Hawley says.