Phương Nga & Các Ngọc
HÀ NỘI — Mai Hữu Tài had a successful career as a forestry engineer, but he knew he wanted to do more for others.
The 54-year-old man from the southern province of Long An saw his local area had huge potential for community tourism, so he launched his own start-up.
In 2017, he decided to set up the community tourism project Dichobiet (Travel to broaden your knowledge.
Speaking about his daring decision to enter new field despite being older than most start-up founders, Tài told Kinh tế&Đô thị (Economy and Urban) newspaper: “I have passion for beautiful sites across Việt Nam and the country’s long-standing traditions."
However, Tài said that alongside the country's rapid development, people had exploited nature a lot, so he hoped to help preserve Việt Nam’s beauty, and widen community tourism in remote areas.
Using modern technology, people living across Việt Nam can invite others to visit their hometowns by supplying accommodation and introduce their local traditions, festivals, architecture and history.
To make his idea come true, Tài chose Thiềng Liềng Village in Thạnh An Commune, Cần Giờ District in HCM City to set up a community tourism ecosystem.
The village, which is about 13,000ha with 200 households, has a simple beauty and peaceful atmosphere with long and wide salt fields.
More than 100 households in the village make a living by producing salt, which they can make during six summer months only. They thought tourism had little hope of developing in the area, but Tài found himself inspired by the village’s simple and peaceful life.
Tài spent much time carefully studying the village and spent time with locals to convince them of the village's potential.
Tài’s team includes young people who also have a passion for community tourism. The team visited every household to give them guidance on preparing accommodation, meals and how to serve tourists.
Tài said his project took advantage of everything available in the area, meaning locals act as tour guides, their houses become accommodation for tourists and tourists eat meals like locals to understand their traditions.
The project divides households into different groups. One group takes care of meals while another takes care of houses, another takes care of automobiles to transport tourists and other acts as tour guides.
They help each other develop, said Tài.
Thanks to its smooth start, Dichobiet received the award 'Devotion for the community' at the Hồ Chí Minh Innovative Start-ups in Tourism 2018 awards.
In addition, his two-day tour to Thiềng Liềng Village made the final round of a competition for agricultural ecological tourism products, the first of its kind in the country, last year.
Sustainable tourism needs close connections between the economy, society and environment, thus more and more State management organisations pay a lot of attention to it, Tài said.
Understanding this, the Dichobiet project focuses on changing people’s awareness and helps them to protect their local cultural heritage and character.
“Connections between economic development, cultural experience and environmental protection are highly appreciated and will be one of the top choices for tourism in the future,” said Tài. — VNS