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Published on : Sunday, November 24, 2013
A new niche in the travel industry is spiritual tourism. The Viet Nam Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports, along with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), organized the first-ever conference on spiritual tourism has attracted over 300 delegates from Viet Nam, Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Iran, Myanmar, Malaysia, the US, France, Spain, the Philippines, Japan, Laos, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand.
Conference officials also welcomed Vice-President of Viet Nam Nguyen Thi Doan, and Executive Director of UNWTO Zoltan Somogyi, among representatives from foreign diplomatic organisations in Viet Nam.
Opening the conference, vice culture minister of Viet Nam Ho Anh Tuan noted, “In this world, even though we are different in terms of skin colours and religions, the trust that we rely on are similar in regards to compassion, tolerance and humanity.”
“It’s the element of borderless-ness and the common nature of these trusts, together with spiritual beliefs, that bring about sympathy, the sense of sharing and the need for mutual understanding,” Tuan said.
“These are not only needs, but also opportunities and a golden land for the development of tourism, in general, and spiritual tourism, in particular, which has a large potential.”
During the two-day event, participants will focus their presentations and discussions on nature, the significance of spiritual tourism, cultural exchanges and responsible tourism, as well as the sustainability of spiritual tourism destinations.
Spiritual tourism is, in fact, a type of cultural tourism, with a cultural spiritual factor being the core concern in satisfying human spiritual demands.
With that in mind, spiritual tourism exploits cultural spiritual factors in tourism operations and relies on tangible and intangible cultural values.
“Only by close cooperation, including mutual assistance among sectors and nations, can we develop spiritual tourism,” Viet Nam’s Vice President, Nguyen Thi Doan, said yesterday, Nov 21. Addressing the first-ever international spiritual tourism conference in northern Ninh Binh Province, the Vice President continued, “Beliefs and culture are considered the key component of spiritual tourism products, and the tie connecting the Vietnamese people with international friends.”
She spoke before 300 national and international participants at the International Conference on Spiritual Tourism for Sustainable Development.
Thus, during the two-day conference at Bai Dinh Pagoda, participants focused their discussions on the understanding and safeguarding of spiritual, religious and cultural values and assets in the context of tourism; development, management, promotion, and interpretation of spiritual tourism products; and socio-economic inclusion and empowerment of local communities, in particular of vulnerable groups.