Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

Taking advantage of the potential and advantages of the spectacular natural landscape and unique cultural identity of Van Kieu and Pako, many people of the Western Quang Tri’s remote area have built community tourism products attracting a large number of visitors. They are considered bridges that bring tourists to the village.

Bold to do mountain tourism

When the summer heat in the Central Region becomes more intense, the number of tourists visiting the mountain and forest areas on the western side of Quang Tri and enjoying beautiful waterfalls and local tourism products of the Van Kieu ethnic minority is increasing. Among the attractions is Ta Puong Waterfall in Trang Ta Puong Village, Huong Viet Commune, Huong Hoa District.

Realizing this trend, Ho Van Gioi in 2021 proposed that local authorities grant him a permit to establish the Trang Ta Puong community-based tourist board. The new model has created jobs for locals and promoted beautiful landscapes and traditional and culinary cultures to travelers.

Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

According to Gioi, the community-based tourist board is managed by 22 members, who represent all families in the village. They work together to upgrade the trail leading to the waterfall, set up parking areas, and build bamboo cabins for tourists who need a rest.

“At first, it took us days to develop the tourist site as we had trouble traveling because of rough terrains. Besides, the area is only reachable in summer because, in the rainy season, the cabins are swept away and demolished by floods. They need rebuilding every time we resume our business,” Gioi said.

“By being determined and resilient, we have overcome all challenges to turn Ta Puong Waterfall into a worthwhile destination for adventure lovers. With this business model, we have created jobs for the locals, helped them change the habit of burning forest for farming, and better protected the environment and natural landscapes.”

Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

When visitors come to Ta Puong waterfall, they can immerse themselves in the cool blue water, experience the sup boating, enjoy local foods made by Van Kieu ethnic people, and learn about locally-made bamboo products such as teacups and chopstick holders.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thuy, a citizen of Khe Sanh Town, knows about the waterfall on social media. With her first trip here, Thuy is excited about new experiences. “I love the wild, magnificent beauty of the waterfall, the fresh air, and the signature dishes of the local people. Despite simple services, this place brings me brand new experiences,” she said.

Changes in thoughts and actions

Sharing the same purpose, Ho Thi Thuong, President of the Women’s Union of Ta Long Commune, follows a different way. Realizing the wild beauty of the A Lao stream in Ta Long Commune, Dakrong District, Thuong led local people and turned the stream into a famous community-based tourist destination that attracts a large number of visitors and provides occupations for many local women.

“After graduating from the university, I dreamt of starting a local tourist business as I saw the prospects brought about by A Lao stream. I began to learn from other community-based tourism business cases in newspapers and the internet and joined training programs to upgrade my skills and knowledge,” Thuong said.

Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

In 2019, Thuong and her partners made the first steps to awaken the A Lao stream by launching a VND199,000 (US$7.83) experiential tour. The tour was realized from Thuong’s idea, and they registered for a provincial startup contest.

After the success of the first tour, Thuong decided to form the A Lao community-based tourism board. She came to every single family to encourage them to join the board, sent them to cooking and rescue classes, and built facilities in the stream area with 12 bamboo cabins, monkey bridges, and hanging cradles that carry the unique cultural traits of ethnic minorities in Truong Son mountains. Thuong also uploaded videos and images of the beautiful A Lao stream, typical dishes, and the people of Van Kieu on social media to attract visitors.

Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

“Now, we have 16 team members, most of whom are women of Ta Lao Village. By joining the business, they have a stable income, and their mindset is changed positively. Instead of doing farming on the mountain, they now know how to make earnings from tourism. That’s my biggest dream when entering the industry,” Thuong said.

Ho Thi Thiet, a female resident in Chenh Venh Village, Huong Phung Commune, Huong Hoa District, takes a higher risk. Starting with a financial package from the project, Thiet and her family made bank loans, rebuilt their home, bought additional devices, and turned their house into a homestay facility.

Thiet’s homestay is now famous and draws many guests to come. Visitors now have a local-style place to enjoy sightseeing as they see the beauty of natural landscapes, forests and mountains with their own eyes.

Community-based services as major instrument in drawing visitors

Sixteen families in the village have joined the business, Thiet said. “Two families have renovated their houses into new homestay facilities to receive more guests.”

According to the Deputy Director of the Huong Hoa District Department of Culture and Information Nguyen Hung, there are now 17 community-based tourist businesses in the district, which the Van Kieu and Pa Ko ethnic people carry their characteristics into tourism products.

These people have inspired and changed the mindset of the people living in remote areas so that they can exploit natural potentials to develop livelihoods, create jobs, and earn stable incomes. These are vital bridges that help the localities plan and vision a master plan for developing sustainable, professional, community-based tourism in the district.

Le Truong – Huy Anh

6:27:04:2024:01:32 GMT+7

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