Moc Chau finds a way out for local community-based tourism
By Dao Quang Minh
Community-based tourism had been available in Moc Chau Plateau in the northern upland province of Son La for more than a decade before it was hit hard by Covid-19. This sector is seeking its own way to thrive again.
Ha Van Quyet, who is living in Doi Village, Tan Lap Commune, is among the first people running a homestay service in the village although his is a small one. Quyet set up his homestay 10 years ago when a tourism firm providing experiencing tours visited him and bring their guests to the location. Since then, many local households have started the business.
Luong Thi Hong Tuoi, owner of Hoa Moc Mien Homestay in Vat Village, says tourists sometimes visit the village and ask locals for accommodation in which they could stay overnight. In response, villagers often invite travelers to stay in their stilt houses and offer them local specialties.
Moc Chau Plateau also boasts a cool climate all year round and beautiful natural landscapes in addition to the rustic lifestyle of local people.
Since April 2019, 12 households in Vat Village and six households in Doi Village have received support from AOP, a non-governmental organization, which helps them upgrade and professionalize their homestay services. The owners are given instructions on space arrangement in their house, and restroom and bathroom layout. The organization also shows them appropriate ways to entertain tourists and promote their services on social media.
The community-based tourism model is helpful to homestay service owners in earning stable income. Additionally, other households provide new tourism products and services, such as motorbike taxis, local tour guides, agriculture products, handmade gifts, local food, etc. Moreover, this kind of tourism has also further promoted the unique local culture and gastronomy.
However, in early 2020, quite unexpected to owners, their homestay facilities went into a tailspin because no international guests showed up as Covid-19 came. Revenue from tourism also declined sharply to nil.
Doi villagers who used to focus on foreign tourists now have to find way to attract domestic tourists. Aside from introducing culture related to Thai ethnic group’s stilt houses, they have offered trekking tours, check-in points and private spaces. Tourists also enjoy Thai ethnic people’s traditional music performances.
Changes made to better serve guests and new services have helped local households earn more stable income despite the pandemic. Vat Village took home more than VND1.2 billion from tourism services last year. Vi Van An, the owner of Vi An Homestay in Doi Village, says it is impossible to maintain the same number of guests as the pre-Covid-19 period. However, households in the village have found a way to adapt themselves to the new situation.
Le Van Hung, a tourist from Hanoi, says his family often prefers staying in hotels and resorts. However, when he and his family experienced homestay services in Vat Village, they felt very interesting about Thai ethnic group’s cuisine and culture.