Last updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Community Tourism: Sustainable Pathway

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2019

Vietnam has enjoyed strong development in countryside-based tourism in recent years, registering a greater share in the overall tourism industry. However, has the country effectively and sustainably tapped the development potential for agricultural tourism, cultural tourism, ecological tourism and homestay tourism largely provided by the rural communities?

Vietnam has 8,926 communes and each commune has several villages. Nearly all Vietnamese lowland villages have communal houses, pagodas, temples, clan shrines, seasonal farming, handicraft and folk festivals, among other values. 1,864 out of 5,411 handicraft villages have been recognised and certified, with 115 villages having time-honoured cottage industries. Traditional village trades are culturally distinctive. Upland and mountainous villages still preserve customary habits, architectures, unique products and indigenous cultures of different ethnic groups. Besides, the country's farming practices still keep traditional features, which are proven interesting to the western industrial world. Thus, the tourism potential is enormous.

In 2015, Italy had 17,000 farms for tourism purposes, providing direct and indirect employment for 2.5 million people, equivalent to 10.9 per cent of its labour force. Vietnam has more potential but not all villages can become tourism destinations. Mr. Nguyen Minh Tien, Director of the Coordinating Office for the National Target Programme for New Countryside Construction (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), said that tourism villages need to have different advantages compared to the rest to attract visitors, and building a new countryside needs to supports to develop and tap outstanding advantages to impact on tourism.

A majority of countryside tourism activities in Vietnam are still fragmented, repetitious, shallow, unprofessional and unsustainable. Specifically, most agricultural tourism activities in rural areas are spontaneous, small in scale and replicated. Infrastructure and supporting facilities at many agricultural and country tourism sites have not been fully invested. The linkage between tour operators and destinations is weak. Human resources for agricultural and country tourism development are limited, especially trained workers capable of delivering good services, managing and operating tourist establishments. Fostering local people with demonstration, explanation and customer service skills does not meet requirements. Promotion activities for agricultural and country tourism have not been invested properly, professionally or systematically.

Mr. Dang Van Cuong, Director of the Management Office of the National Programme for One Commune One Product (OCOP) under the Coordinating Office for the Central National Target Programme, said, many places developed tourism without good planning, quality or competitiveness, and they tend to lower prices to entice visitors. However, not many visitors reportedly intend to return to these places in the future. Therefore, developing agricultural and countryside tourism is challenging. The first weakness is macro management in handicraft village, sector and product development orientations. Secondly, planning the development of traditional handicraft villages and sectors relates to community inclusion, technological innovation, scientific and technological application and environmental pollution. The third is insufficient integration and coordination in State budget resources, insurance policies, tourism infrastructure investment and community capacity building. And the last is linking value chains for common long-term interests.

Experience from farmstay in Ha Tinh
Farmstay is a farm-based tourism model where visitors will be visiting farms and experiencing daily works of farmers. In spite of being a new tourism form, farmstay is gradually catching the interest of tourists and becoming a primary choice of many urban families.

Farmstay experience tours in Tra Son in Can Loc district, Ha Tinh province, is a persuasive example of utilising local advantages and potential. The region of Tra Son, which includes Dong Loc, My Loc, Phu Loc and Thuong Loc communes, is well-known for natural beauty, hilly terrain, natural lakes and fresh air. In recent years, Tra Son farmers have developed a hilly garden economy featured by many integrated farm models that yield high incomes.

Travelling to Tra Son, visitors will have the chance to explore orchards combined with honey bee farming, see farmers gathering honey, enjoy the fresh air in verdant orchards of orange trees, behold the peaceful nature and scenery in Thuong Can Loc region. Thuong Loc orange is distinctive, quite different from other orange varieties in the region. By promoting local specialties to tourists, Can Loc district is speeding up the farmstay tour development. Mr. Dang Tran Phong, Deputy Secretary of Can Loc District Party Committee, said, in the coming time, Can Loc district will boost infrastructure investment to support local tours and experiences. In particular, the district will organise training courses for farmers engaged in this tourism model to acquire effective methods from other localities and better serve tourists.

Minh Ngoc

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