MỘC CHÂU — Local authorities in the northern province of Sơn La have kicked off a new tourism project in the capital town, Mộc Châu, aiming to promote local tourism potential and enhance the community's role in offering tourism services to improve income among locals, especially women.
The “Mộc Châu Inclusive Tourism Destination Management” project has been planned based on the Government’s and province’s decisions to build Mộc Châu into a national tourism site, according to Nguyễn Thị Hoa, deputy chairperson of Mộc Châu People’s Committee.
LườngThị Hồng Tươi, of the Thai ethnic minority group in Vặt Village, Mường Sang Commune, MộcChâu District in the northern province of Sơn La, tidies up a room in her homestay. She received support from the GREAT programme to open the service. —VNS Photo Lê Hương
The budget for the project is AU$553,028 (US$384,000), with 73 per cent funded by the GREAT (Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism) Programme supported by the Australian government and the rest by local authorities.
The project will be implemented in Mộc Châu District and neighbouring Vân Hồ District in Sơn La Province over an 18-month period.
Hoa said the project will enhance destination management efforts among authorities and locals, transfer skills and experience in community tourism to locals and encourage more ethnic minority women to join tourism activities like agriculture – cuisine tours. A night market offering local delicacies and promoting ethnic cultures will be established in Mộc Châu Town.
In addition to a team of six local co-ordinators from the Culture – Information Department of Mộc Châu District’s People’s Committee, the project will receive guidance from four foreign experts specialised in developing destinations, developing destination management organisations, marketing destinations and developing community tourism.
“Here we have favourable conditions for developing tourism like cool weather all the year round and beautiful natural landscapes, as well as the diverse cultural identity of 12 ethnic groups, but we still lack experienced experts in tourism,” Hoa told Việt Nam News.
“GREAT has not been the first organisation to support us in developing tourism. However, it is the one that has implemented properly executed specialised projects in developing agriculture and tourism in Mộc Châu.
“GREAT has chosen partners with lots of experience in training ethnic minority people in tourism skills in other localities already. That’s why when they came to Mộc Châu, they have found almost no difficulties.”
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Hoa said after one year of project implementation, the number of visitors is expected to increase 8 per cent, while the number of families getting higher incomes from tourism will be 144 households or 288 people.
As many as 128 women are expected to benefit from the project, half of them from ethnic minority groups.
“In addition to activities to promote ties between travel agencies, tourism enterprises and create more jobs for locals, especially women, the project has many activities to promote gender equality inside local families and communities,” said Cao Đại Hùng, Tourism Advisor of GREAT.
“Women are important ambassadors in tourism,” he said. “They are bridges to link tourists and the local community and often are the ones who provide tourism services at Community Based Tourism sites. Some women have difficulties in communicating with visitors due to language barriers or social norms prevalent in the local community. This new project is helping to break down these barriers.”
The GREAT programme, which is funded with AU$33.7 million (US$23.4 million) by the Australian government, focuses on ethnic minority women in Lào Cai and Sơn La in the agricultural and tourism markets while strengthening women's voice in economic decision making.
The programme lasts for four years (2017-2021) and works with the private sector, government agencies and NGOs to create opportunities for women within the agriculture and tourism sectors.
Some 40,000 women in Sơn La and Lào Cai are expected to improve their income while 4,000 new jobs are hoped to be created for women. The programme also plans to increase the number of women leading or co-managing businesses or co-operatives by 15 per cent.
In Mộc Châu District, the programme has been implementing various projects in the vegetable sector, fruit sector, seed industry, fruit processing, tea planting and processing and community tourism.
Mộc Châu plateau is located 200km northeast of the capital Hà Nội and has an average altitude of more than 1,000m above sea level. The area has a temperate climate and rich soil, which underpins the growth of the vegetable, tea, fruit and diary sectors in the area.
The 1,000sq.km district hosts a population of more than 100,000, with 62 per cent from ethnic minority groups. — VNS