Harnessing Tourism as Catalyst for Inclusive Socio-economic Progress in Rural Areas

8:13:14 AM | 12/4/2023

Rural tourism has emerged as a catalyst for multifaceted agricultural development, driving economic progress in rural areas and facilitating the ongoing advancement of new rural construction initiatives.

Cho Lach flower gardening

The Office of New Rural Areas in Ben Tre revealed that the province currently boasts 80 communes meeting new rural standards, with tourism activities in these communes significantly impacting the landscape and well-being of local residents. To bolster these efforts, provincial departments have collaborated regularly to disseminate tourism codes of conduct, organize events to stimulate tourism demands and upgrade tourism infrastructure.

Ben Tre province underscores the integral connection between rural tourism development and new rural construction. Efforts are underway to discern and leverage the distinctive features and advantages of natural landscapes, as well as cultural and historical landmarks, to foster rural tourism. This strategic direction seeks to harness the potential of agriculture, craft villages, culture, and the ecological environment, thereby facilitating the transition from agricultural production to an agricultural economy with a focus on multi-sectoral integration. The ultimate goal is to enhance the material and spiritual well-being of rural inhabitants.

 Community tourism emerges as a robust catalyst in Ben Tre, attracting a significant tourist influx and creating many employment opportunities for locals

The Ben Tre Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism reported that the province currently hosts 41 homestays with a total capacity exceeding 1,000 guests. Concentrated primarily in districts such as Chau Thanh, Cho Lach, Mo Cay Bac, Giong Trom, and Ben Tre city, these accommodations are complemented by 57 recognized craft villages, comprising 39 agricultural craft villages and 18 handicraft villages. The manual production methods employed in traditional agricultural craft villages serve as a significant draw for both domestic and international tourists. Notable products include ornamental flowers, handicrafts, mats, coconut leaf baskets, Phu Le wine, and coconut candies. Ben Tre is concurrently implementing the Cho Lach Cultural and Tourism Village Project as part of the National Target Program on New Rural Development and the One Commune One Product Program (OCOP).

Community tourism models stand out as robust tourism products in Ben Tre, attracting a substantial influx of tourists and generating employment opportunities for over 2,000 local workers. These models contribute significantly to poverty reduction, transforming the landscape of rural areas, increasing household incomes, and gradually diminishing the prevalence of impoverished households. Homestay tourism services in cultural and tourist villages yield an average annual income ranging from VND 50-70 million per household, with certain households achieving incomes of several billions of VND a year.

Currently, rural tourism activities in Ben Tre are exploiting and promoting their strengths through various tourism offerings, including visits to coconut gardens and fruit orchards, immersive experiences with local families, tours of traditional craft villages, indulgence in dishes associated with coconut trees, visits to agricultural production facilities, and the purchase of OCOP products.

Aerial view captures the beauty of Cho Lach market tourism village

With a steadfast commitment to advancing rural tourism, Ben Tre province has devised comprehensive investment plans to align tourism development with new rural construction objectives, emphasizing sustainability. The 2023-2025 Program on Rural Tourism Development outlined the goals for the development and standardization of rural tourism destinations and products. The province aims to have at least one recognized rural tourist spot associated with local advantages in agriculture, culture, craft villages, or the ecological environment, with 50% of rural tourism service establishments meeting tourist service standards.

The province's vision involves seamlessly integrating rural tourism development with the digital transformation process. Ben Tre aspires to digitize and connect at least 50% of recognized rural tourist spots on tourism promotion platforms through digital technology. The goal is to have 50% of rural tourist spots employing electronic transactions in tourism activities.

Moreover, the province aims to achieve advanced new rural standards in one district (Cho Lach district) and new rural standards in four districts. Ben Tre envisions green tourism models in Tan My commune of Ba Tri district, with a focus on training and coaching 70% of rural tourism establishment owners and ensuring that 80% of rural tourism workers receive training to enhance their ability to serve tourists.

Identifying the development of rural tourism in tandem with new rural construction as a pivotal goal, Ben Tre has requested all levels and branches of the province to mobilize resources for tourism development, concentrating on the comprehensive development of tourism infrastructure, improvement of service conditions for tourists, and the effective exploitation of cultural tourism resources.

By Tung Lam, Vietnam Business Forum