A tourism development project being implemented in the northern
mountainous provinces of Ha Giang and Cao Bang is expected to improve the
livelihood of 10,000 poor people from ethnic minority groups.
Apart from providing economic opportunities, the project’s goal is to “improve
livelihood through community-based tourism”, which in turn is expected to
improve environmental conditions and help preserve the traditional cultures of
the selected ethnic minority communities living in Ha Giang Province’s Hoang Su
Phi District and Cao Bang Province’s Trung Khanh and Quang Yen districts.
Community-based tourism involves local ownership and management, and offers
tourists the chance to learn about and experience the culture, work environment
and lifestyle of the local communities.
The project is being implemented by HELVETAS Swiss in Viet Nam and CRED, an
in-country offshoot of HELVETAS.
Their previous rural development projects in selected areas have shown that this
region is ideally suited for community-based tourism initiatives, said Cao Đại
Hùng, who is in charge of community-based tourism at CRED.
The selected regions are home to many ethnic minorities who have maintained
their unique traditions but are among the poorest people in Viet Nam.
Breath-taking landscapes such as rice terraces, limestone mountains and
impressive waterfalls make these regions ideal for sustainable tourism
Since 2015, HELVETAS and CRED officials have made a number of visits to these
areas to assess the social-economic situation, people’s main source of income,
the gender role in current production activities, as well as to determine the
locals’ willingness towards community-based tourism development.
During these visits, HELVETAS and CRED have formed business partnerships with
six villages, and have trained locals to provide quality tourism services to
The first commercial tour, Hoàng Su Phì Mountain Bike Challenge, was organised
from May 18 to 21, and is an important first step in establishing various
community-based tourism activities in the area. Apart from cycling, participants
interacted with locals and did one day of voluntary work that directly benefits
an ethnic minority village. The trip is free of cost, but requires a donation to
a local community fund.
More tour packages and activities are currently being developed and will be
offered by the Vietnam Responsible Tourism (VRT) in the near future.
Gavino Strebel, a tourist from Switzerland who was part of the Hoang Su Phi bike
tour, said that Hoang Su Phi is an ideal tourist place, and particularly suited
for bike riding. The local people were very friendly and traditional dishes were
good, he said, adding that it was an interesting experience and that everyone
should try it once in life.
Lu Van Chung, vice-chairman of Hoang Su Phi District’s People’s Committee, said
the local authorities would create favourable conditions for the implementation
of the community-based tourism development project and would upgrade
infrastructure to welcome more tourists.