Royal Anthropological Institute / Development Studies Association Tourism Research Seminars
SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE
Karst Limestone or Cast Concrete? Coastal tourism and local impacts in Vietnam: lessons from Ha Long Bay
Dr Mark Hampton, University of Kent
Thursday 17 November 2016 at 5.30 pm
This paper explores the local impacts of rapidly growing coastal tourism and presents key findings from an international research project between UK and Vietnamese universities. It draws from fieldwork that analysed economic impacts and tested the notion of tourism-led inclusive growth. Inclusive growth remains a contested concept, yet has been adopted by the World Bank as a means to reduce poverty and inequality through rapid economic growth. Research to date has focused on sectors such as agriculture to test the inclusive growth paradigm, but has been little applied to tourism. Given the importance of tourism for income generation, employment and government revenue, the paper examines the main economic components of tourism-led inclusive growth: supply chain, economic linkages/leakages, ownership, employment and tourist expenditure. Since Vietnam opened up to international tourism in the 1990s under the Doi Moi reforms, Ha Long Bay has been one of Vietnam’s most important destinations receiving over three million visitors p.a. The research utilised a broadly qualitative approach using insights from rapid appraisal type techniques and deployed semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from the tourism industry and government. It was shown that coastal tourism had developed rapidly in Ha Long Bay with some clear economic benefits for the host community but did not appear to fall within the inclusive growth paradigm. It is unclear if - given the large-scale capital-intensive developments being built - tourism-led growth will become any more inclusive in Ha Long in the short or medium term. The paper ends by considering lessons for other developing countries considering tourism, especially coastal tourism, to drive economic growth. At present, despite tourism’s potential for local economic development, this research questions whether tourism can reduce inequality in developing economies such as Vietnam and lead to more inclusive growth.
Dr Mark Hampton FRGS is Reader in Tourism Management at Kent Business School, University of Kent. His research specialises in tourism and local socio-economic development, particularly small-scale and coastal/island tourism in South-East Asia. He has written/edited four books (including Backpacker Tourism and Economic Development, Routledge 2013) and published more than 40 journal articles and book chapters. His research has been funded by the World Bank; Commonwealth Secretariat; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; DFID; Swiss overseas aid; Malaysian Ministry of Tourism; British Academy and the British Council. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Visiting Professor of Tourism at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.