2:23:01 PM | 8/8/2006
In 2003, Vinh Long province welcomed 175,000 visitors, comprising of 55,000 international ones, doubling the volume in 2000. This result is proof that the target of receiving 70,000 international arrivals in 2010 should be an easy task. Cooperation in planning and investment in infrastructure and garden tourism service products is laying a stronger foundation for the attraction of more tourists.
Vinh Long has a complex river and stream system with nearly 40,000 ha of orchards. Farmers always worry about the consumption of their fruits because of low selling prices and difficulty in sales. Hence, the policy of setting up gardens in association with developing tourism has received great applauses from the local people.
Developing garden tourism
An Binh Commune is one of four island communes in Long Ho District cultivating specialty fruits. According to the garden economic development in relationship with tourism until 2010, An Binh has 10 ha of orchards using for eco-tourism development. Since 2000, several garden owners have invested to upgrade infrastructure and transform long-day tree area into ideal eco-tourism sites to attract visitors. Locating in the fork junction of the Co Tien River and in adjacency to Vinh Long Town, An Binh Eco-tourism Site, with an investment of nearly VND2 billion (US$125,000) by Mr. Le Thanh Hong, is a place of interest in this region.
Prior to 1999, from 1.6ha of longan trees, Hong used half of this area to grow mango and rambutan, and spent money on building facilities. More than 200 decadal longan trees bear fruits to serve visitors and provide shades and peaceful atmosphere for them. At this site, visitors can relax by fishing, listen to amateur folk music and songs of southern people and tasting attractively popular dishes. With an eco-tourism style, the main dishes of this site are popular dishes in southern Vietnam like fried anabas, simmered fish and dien dien vegetable soup to preserve and introduce cultural tradition and characteristics of the garden tourism. The earnings from the garden tourism double or treble those from a pure garden.
Highlighting garden tourism
Vinh Long has more than 20 tourism gardens in accordance with the provincial tourism development plan in the 2000-2010 period. These gardens are developed in five eco-tourism projects of Dong Phu and An Binh (Long Ho District) Quoi Thien (Vung Liem District), Phu Thanh (Tra On District) and My Hoa (Binh Minh District), totally covering 70 ha and needing over VND83.5 billion (US$5.22 million) investment.
In spite of the categorisation as garden eco-tourism, each garden has its own highlights. One focuses on introducing traditional handcraft industry in combination with visiting orchards while another specialises in recreation, river tourism and floating market sightseeing. Each project introduces several services but garden owners fully exploit advantages of their facilities to produce various types of tourism products. For example, the nearly 2-ha garden of Mr. Tham Ho (in Hoa Ninh Commune, Long Ho District) grows various types of fruit trees like durian, rambutan, longan, orange, mandarin and plum to have a year-round fruitful garden. Mr. Tam Ho’s garden is not only a place of interests for foreigners to sightsee and study but also a rendezvous for regional farmers to meet to exchange experience. Here, visitors can enjoy fruit wines and medicinal wines brewed by Mr Tam’s family. In recent years, Tam’s family bagged some VND200 million incomes, principally from seed trees and tourism activities.
The garden tourism not only helps farmers increase incomes but also improves the productivity of the gardening economy. According to the Vinh Long Department of Trade and the Department of Tourism, if a garden owner wishes to invest in garden tourism, he should study whether his project is similar to others, which lead to an overall unattractive tourist site of Vinh Long. At the same time, the tourism industry needs to open more short-term and long-term training courses for garden owners to improve professional tourism skills.
In the coming years, the tourism sector will cooperate with the industrial sector to produce souvenirs for garden tourism, contributing to the diversification of tourism products and the income increase for the locals.