Topas Explorer Group, a Danish travel company, was present quite early in Sapa town, Lao Cai province. Over the past two decades, the Group has made significant contributions to local socio-economic development. To learn more about this regard, our reporter had an interview with Mr. Mike Rinno Kruse, CEO of Topas Explorer Group, Vietnam.
How unique are your tourism activities in Sapa and in Vietnam as a whole?
Topas Explorer Group has four main business areas in Vietnam: hotel management, travel, sport and transportation. Topas Explorer Group operations are based on sustainable travel and hotel operation values to ensure minimum impact on the surrounding environment, while offering guests a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the local area.
We employ people from nearby villages and use local products and goods in order to bring economic benefits to our regional communities.
Our environmental projects include a constructed wetland to treat wastewater from the kitchen and laundry. We also have a glass crusher that allows us to recycle bottles as sand for construction. Our pool is also heated with the latest, most eco-friendly technology and is saltwater to reduce chemical use.
We have raised over US$300,000 through our sport events, including the yearly Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa. These funds have been donated to local projects, such as the construction of schools and bridges in Lao Cai province. Funds are also allocated to nonprofit organizations such as Operation Smile and Newborns Vietnam, which have directly benefited the people of Lao Cai.
How do you assess the development of the northern province of Vietnam?
When Topas Ecolodge was under construction in 2005, Sapa had only a few hotels available. Back then, tourists could only reach many villages on long all-day trekking trips; now, thanks to the development of infrastructure, we can get to most remote villages by driving a couple of hours. The fast development of Sapa, together with the rising number of tourists, is very good for the province’s economy.
While increasing numbers of inbound tourists have been traveling to other mountain destinations which are seen as less touristy, the provincial plan to develop Sapa into a National Tourist Area of international stature, focusing on exploiting and developing tourism in the direction associated with natural conditions, unique cultural identity and ecological environment, means that Sapa is now well-positioned to remain the top mountain destination in Vietnam for inbound travelers.
Currently, you are actively carrying out the second phase of the Topas Ecolodge Ecotourism Project. Could you please introduce more about this project?
We are happy that Lao Cai province continues to support Topas Ecolodge, Topas Riverside Lodge, Vietnam Mountain Marathon and the new VMM Nam Cang.
At Topas Ecolodge we are constructing 8 new deluxe suites and a magnificent new restaurant with a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Moreover, 8 new private pool villas all equipped with the newest technology in floor heating and wastewater treatment and water reuse will be featured in our property in the future. All these new developments are designed to blend in and complement the beautiful landscape that surrounds us.
What do you think about and expect of the cooperation ties between Topas and Lao Cai, Vietnam and Denmark?
I am confident that Topas Explorer Group will continue to have a good relationship with Lao Cai Province, as we have had since the beginning of our business.
We will continue to strive to contribute to the development of Sapa tourism by creating more new unique tourism products.
Vietnam and Denmark have had good ties for many years and I am sure that the mutual cooperation will grow stronger in the years ahead.
The late HKH Crown Prince Henrik spent his early years in Hanoi and spoke fluent Vietnamese at that time. Denmark has had good diplomatic relations with Vietnam since 1971.
We are looking forward to seeing more Danish businesses operating in Vietnam and in Lao Cai Province in particular.
Thank you very much!
Source: Vietnam Business Forum