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Creating a boom of craft villages
The rise and fall of traditional occupations and craft villages always connects close historical changes, social-economic development and awareness of the importance of preserving and promoting cultural values of the country and other regions.
In the current climate of international economic integration trends, traditional craft villages have more opportunities. However, the villages also face numerous challenges, including the competitiveness of craft products and the market tendency to shift. Therefore, it is necessary to have rational policies to attract resources relating to traditional craft heritages to serve tourism and export sectors.
Over the past, Thua thien – Hue provincial People’s Committee has planned to restore and develop traditional crafts and craft villages. Many training courses have been organised to help local people access advanced technology and develop craft products.
The projects have successful results. Craft products, such as Phuoc Tich pottery, bamboo paper, Zeng textiles and calligraphy paintings, choose their own suitable direction and market. According to Mai Thi Hop, Head of Co-operative of Zeng textile in A Luoi district, after the training courses by Department of Industry and Trade, small-scale Zeng textile enterprises gathered to establish Zeng textile co-operative on a larger scale. The Zeng textile co-operative currently has 35 employees; their products are sold not only in the province but also to tourists and by partners in other provinces. For this reason, the Zeng textile trade has been restored and preserved in A Luoi district, offering stable incomes for many local people, Hop said.
Local people in craft villages were encouraged to invest in machines for production; the traditional products were designed using a combination of traditional methods and modern machines. Production machines, which aim to raise productivity, improve quality, lower costs and enhance competitiveness, are used in several production steps. As a results craft villages such as Bao La village at Quang Phu commune and Thuy Lap village at Quang Loi commune have created more 50 new samples; Phuoc Tich pottery village at Phong Hien commune also created three pottery products; and cajuput oil manufacturing establishments at Loc Thuy commune improved their packaging to meet the demands of tourists.
According to Nguyen Luong Bay, Director of the provincial Industrial Promotion and Trade Promotion Centre, in the 2011-2015 period, the centre deployed 170 projects with VND14 billion from local budget spent on industrial promotion and trade promotion. The province established industrial complexes in cities, towns and districts. Every year, the province supports craft product manufacturing establishments and traditional craft villages to participate in festivals and fairs in the province and other localities.
To date, Thua Thien – Hue has planned ten industrial complexes and established eight industrial complexes in several districts and towns as well as Hue city. The industrial complexes created the necessary conditions for craft villages to develop manufacturing establishments. Thanks to practical projects, the province has helped to ensure stable production for 1,600 craft product manufacturing establishments and around 30 traditional craft villages.
According to Vo Phi Hung, Director of the Department of Trade and Industry of Thua Thien – Hue province, the province’s average annual handicraft production growth rate reached over 15%, production value of traditional handicraft villages reached 50% of handicraft production and offered employment for more than 10,000 people. Most notably, the province has contributed to preserving and promoting cultural values of Viet Nam in general and in Thua Thien – Hue province in particular.
Direction of development
In regards to the province of Thua Thien – Hue’s strategy on developing tourism and service, the province plans to develop handicraft shops in cities and at tourism sites; support vocational training; build brand names of handicraft products; and develop craft villages via establishing co-operatives and enterprises in the villages.
According to the Standing Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Phan Ngoc Tho, developing craft villages involves a craft village development plan in conformity with the province’s socio-economic development plan, as well as building high quality human resources, increasing the competitiveness of products, raising awareness of local people on environmental protection, and completing the legal framework for product registration.
Connecting the development of craft villages with the tourism industry is considered as a core issue; craft village tourism is expected to utilize the advantages of cultural traditions, history, and the talents of craftsman.
Additionally, it is necessary to further research and classify typical handicrafts and craft villages while combining the craft village development plan with the tourism development plan and the new rural area construction programme.
Hue ancient capital is a grandiose heritage of Viet Nam and the world. The question is how to help cultural heritages become cultural tourism products, which attract increasing visitors to Hue. Sustainably preserving and promoting traditional heritage values requires further efforts by both local authorities and the people of Hue.