offer green dreams to visitors
Local residents offer
tourism services and visitors turn into local fishermen – that’s the ethos
on eco-tours initiated by 29-year-old Tran Van Khoa, who was born into a
fisherman’s family and who used to work in Hoi An’s Victoria Hotel as a
A coracle (type of small
boat) drops into the sea. Khoa skilfully jumps aboard and explains to the
tourists on the boat that local fishermen use coracles to catch fish and squid
He demonstrates how to
guide it through the waves and receives a clap from five-year-old Ally Chris
Other members of the group
are invited to try rowing the coracle. Many of them are lured by local fishing
methods. Little Ally’s mother, Elliott, insists on trying to cast a net into
the sea. She draws it back with only weeds, but she looks delighted, saying:
"I have learnt how to net fish."
Every day, Khoa brings
tourists to take cruises and try the coracles. They also visit Bay Mau coconut
palm forest – where soldiers sheltered in their fight against the American
invaders – and enjoy marine delicacies served by Khoa’s father.
Khoa also co-ordinates
with the five-star Victoria Hotel to offer special eco-tours, on which tourists
are encouraged to join clean-up activities in Bay Mau coconut palm forest.
associates with green, clean and beauty," Khoa said, "There is too
much rubbish on rivers, along the beach and in the forest. All my customers are
willing to join in a 15-minute clean-up and even on the other tours they pick up
rubbish to put in bins on the boats." Within a day, the tourists experience
farming techniques in Tra Que vegetable growing village and then ride bicycles
to Cuu Dai beach and try fishing at Cua Dai Fishing Wharf.
"It’s an excellent
way to see the countryside and the people," wrote Tarja Halonen, president
of Finland, who took a tour in February last year, together with her husband and
Khoa’s eco-tours result
from his own initiative and his whole family and neighbours help. After
graduating in English from Da Nang College, Khoa worked in the Victoria Hotel.
He soon realised foreign tourists were interested in his fishing village and
surrounding natural beauty.
So he started the tour
business with VND100 million (US$5,627) capital. He designed his own
itineraries, and he was the sole guide. His father and mother help gearing the
boats and serving the food.
Now there are 10 guides
speaking mainly English and French and around 30 fishermen provide and row
coracles to serve big groups, earning up to VND3 million ($169) a month.
downturn has seriously affected tourism companies in Hoi An," Khoa said,
"but our tourist numbers increased 30 per cent against the same time last
year. This shows that more and more foreign tourists are interested in
Presently, his Hoi An
Eco-tour Travel Agent Company serves 50-100 customers a week.
Soon he plans to seek
travel agent partners, especially international companies operating in the UK,
US, Australia and France.
Khoa intends to open tours
to Cu Lao Cham Island, which has just been listed as one of the world’s
biosphere preservation sites.
successful, because it requires little investment while offering high economic
"Our eco-tours are
especially appreciated as Hoi An has beautiful scenery, historic relics and
hard-working, warm-hearted people." — VNS