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How can tourist destinations respond to crises? Which elements does crisis management include? How can the media spotlight be turned away from bad news onto good news? What does belong to a successful tourism media campaign?
Answers to these questions have been worked out during two 5 day training courses on behalf of GOPA consultants with more than 60 delegates from all over Vietnam in Halong and Nha Trang.
Crisis Management & Tourism PR
At first glance, the combination of two different topics such as crisis management and tourism public relations in one training course seems to be strange. However, dealing in-depth with both issues shows that the connections are close and an all-embracing strategy is needed as Vietnam, which faces several potential crises, follows the goal to develop responsible tourism. So, crises resulting from naval accidents, typhoons, traffic or political tensions are apparent in the international media, while the touristic highlights, all the hidden places and unique experiences of Vietnam are difficult to find in newspapers, magazines and blogs. Hence, the delegates analyzed potential risks of their provinces, worked out mitigation strategies and crisis management procedures in order to avoid negative impacts from crises and learned how to respond to and recover from a crisis.
High potential in tourism
Moreover, it has been discussed and trained how to deal with the international media. The main challenge currently is to demonstrate the broad variety of the Vietnamese tourism offer, ranging from pristine beaches, over UNESCO heritage sites, national parks, up to ethnic minorities, community based tourism and hiking experiences in the highlands. The density of attractions is high in Vietnam but the countries’ image still is limited to some hotspots only.
During the training course, the participants demonstrated their awareness of the importance of crisis management and public relations. But resources are limited, as co-operations between provinces and the public and the private sector still can be improved.
Finally, the delegates established networks and contacts, not only during the training sessions, but also in their free time and developed promising offers with respective PR campaigns.
The ESRT Programme
The training course was part of the ESRT Programme (Environmentally and Social Responsible Tourism). It is the biggest tourism technical support programme in Vietnam to mainstream responsible tourism principles into Vietnam’s tourism sector to enhance competitiveness and contributing to achieving the Socio Economic Development Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union and the Vietnamese Government.
Karsten Palme, Destination Management Trainer ESRT