Joint destination marketing in the South Central Coast region of Viet Nam
The tourism industry of Viet Nam has developed rapidly over the last two decades. However, more attention must be given to destination marketing, especially joint destination marketing, if the sector is to continue to expand. To date there has been little research on joint destination marketing, especially in developing countries and transitional economies like Viet Nam. This study attempts to fulfil this gap by examining the joint destination marketing activities of the eight South Central Coast provinces of Viet Nam. The study has three objectives: (1) to examine the nature and extent of current joint destination marketing activities, (2) to analyze the factors that influence joint destination marketing decision-making, and (3) to investigate the destination marketing relationships between local destination marketing organizations(DMOs) of the eight provinces. The South Central Coast was chosen as the study site as it is the most dynamic tourism development region of Viet Nam. The study triangulated both primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected mainly from semi-structured in-depth interviews with DMO representatives. This was complemented by the content analysis of official tourism websites. Four sets of key findings result from this research. First, the South Central Coast provinces currently conduct destination marketing more individually than jointly. However, all provinces of the region practise a certain mix of both individual and joint marketing activities. Local DMOs also develop competitive and cooperative relationships with other counterpart DMOs. Second, joint destination marketing is an emerging and increasingly common trend in the region and is characterized by different patterns of cooperative behaviour and levels of involvement. Third, joint destination marketing decision-making is influenced by various factors, including preconditions, benefits, drawbacks, motives and barriers. These factors are inter-related, which in turn creates tensions for DMO in their joint destination marketing decision-making. Fourth, in the South Central Coast region, joint destination marketing activities occur more commonly at a sub-regional scale than at the scale of the whole region. Furthermore, these sub-region cooperative models involve provinces located in other regions. Decisive factors in destination marketing partnership formation include proximity, convenient transportation, mutual benefits, similar target markets and compatibility of tourism products. The study concludes by highlighting the need to establish a regional tourism coordinating organization to facilitate joint actions and cooperative interrelationships between provinces. There is also much room left in for further joint destination marketing research.