|A view of the Flower & Frog Homestay in Sa Déc Town, Đồng Tháp Province. — Photo booking.com|
HCM CITY — Home-stay services are becoming popular across the country, with many people turning their houses into tourist dwellings to welcome foreign visitors.
Trần Thanh Hùng, 45, of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Đồng Tháp has spent VNĐ800 million (US$36,000) to upgrade and expand his house.
Located in Sa Đéc flower village, his home is an ideal destination for foreign tourists looking for a home-stay experience, living alongside local people or biking around the flower village.
After the upgrade, his house can accommodate more than 30 tourists.
Local authorities have encouraged the development of this kind of tourism, and in fact gave him the chance to hire tourism consultancy companies.
This model has also been adopted in many northern provinces like Hoà Bình, Sơn La, Lai Châu, Yên Bái, Lào Cai, and Thái Nguyên.
Bùi Viết Thuỷ Tiên, director of Asian Trails Company Ltd, told Sài Gòn Times newspaper that the home-stay model gives tourists a chance to live intimately with local people.
In the past tourists could not stay in these areas because of the poor living conditions, but not any more, he said.
Authorities in Quảng Nam, Lâm Đồng, Vĩnh Long, An Giang, Đồng Tháp, and Sóc Trăng are calling on companies with experience in developing home-stay services to train and assist local people.
In the central province of Quảng Nam, a home-stay service is set to begin in Cẩm Thành District.
In Đà Lạt city, while authorities are seeking to develop the service, it has already been adopted by locals and tour companies.
During the recent Lunar New Year it proved very popular though prices had jumped by 20 per cent.
More facilities needed
Tour operators say there is massive potential for home-stay services to develop because more and more tourists are seeking the experience.
But the facilities need to be improved and more packages to experience local life must be developed.
Dương Minh Bình, chairman of CBT Travel, said home-stay services developed thanks to support from local governments and international orgnisations.
They proved successful thanks to the attractive local culture and landscapes, he said.
But hosts should upgrade their houses to offer more facilities and a greater variety of food, ensure food hygiene and design more tours for tourists to experience local life more intimately.
"It is important to maintain service quality," he warned.
Other operators said it was necessary to preserve local cultural features.
Families that provide the home-stay services need to go on with their normal daily life, but have to be trained in serving visitors, according to the operators.
It is the locals’ daily life which is attractive to visitors.
The hosts also need to organise trips to nearby places of interest.
For instance, home-stay hosts in the northern province of Hoà Bình organise trips around villages and on rivers by raft.
Though authorities provide support, the hosts have difficulty in finding customers.
Since they lack knowledge about the market, they need middlemen, usually tour operators, or tourism websites to get customers and have to pay them 30 per cent of the price.
Bình said while most hosts had difficulty finding customers and had to depend on travel companies, customers would start coming after a while if they did it well.
"Many people in the north are now managing to get customers without depending on intermediaries," he said.
"The lives of many have improved as a result," he added. VNS