Nestled in a quaint corner of Hoa Binh Lake, approximately 100 km west of Hanoi, lies a transformed community whose lives have been uplifted over the past decade. Thanks to the non-profit Community-Based Tourism (CBT) initiative supported by the NGO Action on Poverty, families that once struggled with poverty are now operating homestays that attract a steady stream of guests, especially on weekends. This remarkable initiative has created sustainable incomes for families in the area and offers a shining example of how tourism can make a positive impact on underprivileged communities.
The Birth of Da Bac Community-Based Tourism
The heartwarming success story of Da Bac Community-Based Tourism began in 2014 when Australian philanthropist, Dr. Vance Gledhill, visited the Da Bac district. The region had experienced the displacement of several farming communities due to the construction of a hydro-electric dam, which left them struggling to sustain their livelihoods in the rugged upland terrain of Hoa Binh. Driven by a desire to make a difference, Gledhill, who was already involved in similar NGO projects in Africa, met with Vietnamese authorities to explore opportunities for a meaningful intervention in Da Bac.
Transforming Lives Through Community-Based Tourism
The CBT initiative focused on a network of three remote ethnic minority villages: Sung, Da Bia, and Ke, all located in Da Bac District. The goal was to empower local families by offering them the opportunity to operate homestays and engage in tourism-related activities. The process involved comprehensive surveys and careful selection of households to work as homestays. The selected families received loans and received training in hospitality, English communication, and food preparation to ensure they were well-equipped to provide a memorable experience to guests.
The support and togetherness of the community were evident from the beginning, as all homestays provided similar options at comparable prices. Over the last eight years, the CBT project in Da Bac has successfully attracted more than 20,000 visitors, with around 30% of them coming from international destinations. This influx of tourists has generated nearly half a million dollars in revenue for the area, directly benefiting over 6,000 individuals. Moreover, a portion of the profits has been reinvested in a community fund used for essential infrastructure upgrades.
Empowering Through Training and Sustainable Practices
For the homestays in northern Vietnam to thrive, training plays a pivotal role. As part of the CBT initiative, families are provided with essential training in running successful homestays, including how to receive guests and offering authentic cultural experiences. Basic conservational English classes are also offered to enable effective communication with international guests. This investment in training and sustainable practices has been instrumental in the remarkable success of Da Bac Community-Based Tourism.
A Beacon of Hope for Responsible Tourism
Da Bac’s journey to becoming a thriving community-based tourism destination is a beacon of hope for responsible tourism in northern Vietnam. In contrast to the growing problem of overtourism in popular regions like Sa Pa, Da Bac offers a peaceful retreat for travelers seeking to explore the scenic mountainous regions of the country. The success of this initiative not only showcases the potential of tourism to alleviate poverty but also highlights the power of collective effort and collaboration between local communities and NGOs.
The heartwarming tale of Da Bac Community-Based Tourism serves as a reminder of the positive impact tourism can have on remote and disadvantaged communities. Through responsible practices, community involvement, and sustainable initiatives, tourism can empower families and create lasting change. As travelers, choosing destinations like Da Bac allows us to contribute positively to the lives of local residents while experiencing the authentic beauty of Vietnam’s mountainous regions.
Q: What is Community-Based Tourism (CBT)? A: Community-Based Tourism (CBT) is an approach that involves local communities in the planning, development, and management of tourism activities to ensure the benefits directly impact the community.
Q: How has CBT impacted Da Bac community? A: CBT has transformed the lives of families in Da Bac by providing them with opportunities to operate homestays, generate sustainable incomes, and engage with tourists.
Q: How many visitors has Da Bac CBT attracted so far? A: Over the last eight years, Da Bac CBT has welcomed more than 20,000 visitors, with around 30% coming from international destinations.
Q: What are the benefits of choosing destinations like Da Bac for travelers? A: Choosing destinations like Da Bac allows travelers to contribute positively to the lives of local residents while experiencing the authentic beauty of Vietnam’s mountainous regions.
Q: How does the success of Da Bac CBT inspire responsible tourism? A: The success of Da Bac CBT showcases the potential of tourism to alleviate poverty and highlights the power of collective effort and collaboration between local communities and NGOs in promoting responsible tourism practices.