Agritourism a new model for Mekong Delta

June 16, 2024 - 08:38
Farmers are encouraged to participate in tourism, contributing to the economic restructuring of agricultural life to service-oriented tourism, thereby developing the rural economy through tourism activities, and increasing the value of farm produce.
Flowers ready for the harvest season in the Sa Đéc Flower Village.  VNA/VNS Photos Nguyễn Văn Trí

HCM CITY - Agritourism is becoming wildly popular among visitors due to successful attempts by government bodies and communities to link agriculture and tourism in cities and provinces across the country, according to residents and officials nationwide.

On June 1, the minister of culture, sports, and tourism, Nguyễn Văn Hùng, and the minister of agriculture and rural development, Lê Minh Hoan, signed a coordinated program agreement for the effective and sustainable development of agricultural and rural tourism for the period 2024 - 2030. This was the first time the two ministries joined forces under such a cooperation agreement, showing the Government's vision and determination to develop Việt Nam's agritourism.

Visitors pass a flower field in the Happy Land Hùng Thy Garden in the Mekong Delta province of Đồng Tháp. VNA/VNS Photos Nguyễn Văn Trí

The Sa Đéc Flower Village in Quý Đông Ward of Sa Đéc City in the Mekong Delta province of Đồng Tháp has been a role model of how to capitalise on local advantages with the development of a traditional flower capital into an agritourism hub, attracting large numbers of visitors.

Established in the late 19th century, the village is home to lush gardens and flower and ornamental plants, which have been important to the province's distinguished agritourism.

Nguyễn Ngọc Hưng, a flower farmer and agritourism business owner in Quý Đông Ward, says his family has been in the flower business for three generations.

His family is proud to be among those in the vanguard of the province's movement combining agricultural and tourism activities. With support and guidance from local authorities, as well as decades of experience in flower farming, Hưng's family farm - the Happy Land Hùng Thy Garden - has become one of the most attractive destinations for visitors.

More and more tourists visit Sa Đéc flower village. VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Văn Trí

Hưng says the tourist areas were systematically planned and invested in, including a nursery of flower and ornamental plants, an area for traditional folk games such as boat rowing, single-trunk bridge walking, balance cycling and cooking classes, as well as stalls selling the province's specialities.

He says his family's garden has been recognised by the provincial authorities as a 4-star OCOP (One Commune, One Speciality Product) shopping facility, attracting more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Trần Thanh Hùng, another farmer and homestay owner in the village and chairman of the local club Together in Tourism, says his homestay designs were inspired by combining fresh, open gardens and introducing visitors to various types of flowers and ornamental plants, alongside accommodation.

He says members of the club were just ordinary farmers at the beginning, with no or little knowledge of how to run agritourism businesses. To date, they have all learned how to combine their farm produce and tourism operations to maximise their income. Thanks to the many visitors, the village's flowers and ornamental plants have enjoyed a boost in their reputation and popularity in the wider region.

Farmers take care of flowers in the Sa Đéc Flower Village.

According to local officials, farmers have played a crucial role in the development of one of the key agricultural sectors in the province. From a small town that supplied flowers and ornamental plants to nearby provinces, Sa Đéc has grown into a major agritourism hub. The town's products have also found their way into international markets thanks to millions of visitors each year.

Additionally, Đồng Tháp plans to implement solutions for developing agricultural and rural tourism as part of the new regional rural construction program. The province encourages the participation of farmers in tourism, contributing to the economic restructuring of agricultural life to service-oriented tourism, associated with agriculture and craft villages, thereby developing the rural economy through tourism activities, and increasing the value of farm produce. It has also focused on building and improving typical agritourism models to direct investment and development, replication, and tourist attractions.​

Located in the suburbs of HCM City, the Thiềng Liềng community tourism in Thạnh An Island Commune of Cần Giờ District offers a distinctive marine and island tourism experience.

Visitors can explore the solar salt-making fields, visit the mangrove forests, listen to traditional music, enjoy coastal cuisine and relax with foot baths in medicinal herb-scented salt, all created and run by local salt makers and fishermen, who have extensive knowledge.

Local farmer Nguyễn Thị Bạch Tuyết from the Thiềng Liềng Community Tourism Cooperative says that there wis a strong culture of agritourism in the commune. Established just two years ago, the cooperative allows farmers to engage in community tourism as a group. Thanks to agritourism, the farmers have higher incomes and better living standards.

Lê Thị Bé Bảy, a member of the Cồn Sơn Agricultural Tourism Cooperative in the Mekong Delta province of Cần Thơ, says the process of shifting from sole farming to an agritourism model requireds a lot of determination from farmers and strong support from local governments through efforts in implementing new policies.

She says the success of agritourism in Cồn Sơn is largely thanks to timely and detailed guidance given to farmers on how to develop and preserve the natural landscape, as well as to promote local specialities through tourist companies.

Bảy says more than 60 members in her club have gained proficiency in English, French, and Korean to serve as tourist guides over the last two years.

However, the development of local agritourism depends on constant efforts in innovation and investment, focusing on building a comprehensive infrastructure system from transport and accommodation to waste collection and disposal.

In addition, financial support for local residents is crucial in building community-based ecotourism tailored to different groups and connecting with new tourist destinations. VNS