Vietnam attracts around 4-5 million international visitors annually. This is a modest number compared to the country’s potential and also when compared to its neighbors. A main reason is that tourism in Vietnam is still very simple. However, a new trend is taking hold in Vietnam centered around sustainable community tourism and is being advertised as “natural, adventure, and ecologically-aware tours.”
“Tourism in the community and being close to nature is the future direction of specialized tourism in Vietnam,” said Hanoi-based Indochina Travelland director Vu Ngoc Khiem, after attending a seminar on ASEAN ecological tourism.
When people are fed up with modern life, it becomes the golden time for adventure tours. The most popular form is traveling by bicycle, because it is suitable with Vietnam’s topography and landscapes. Trans-Vietnam tours and tours to the northwestern region (from Dien Bien Phu to Lao Cai) have been designed with this in mind.
Joining these tours, travelers have a chance to travel beautiful roads and challenge themselves at sloping mountain passes, including famous ones like Prenn, Hai Van, and Tram Ton.
There are also trekking tours to remote and isolated villages in the mountains, plus kayaking, surfing, and rock-climbing tours in Ha Long Bay. These forms of travel require tourists to have passion and good health, to adapt to new situations, and to explore their abilities.
Some travel firms have launched “special tours” to satisfy different categories of visitors, for example “bird watching” tours for people who love birds and also ornithologists, with destinations of Cuc Phuong and Tam Dao national parks or even Xuan Thuy mangrove forest.
Some firms create eco-friendly tours that don’t focus on profit, like a tour to collect trash in Ha Long Bay set up by Noi Vong Tay company. Visitors travel the bay on kayak boats and collect rubbish on the sea.
Tam Nhin Moi Company has a team-building tour, which offers games and activities to build up harmony and sympathy among staff in a company. Indochina Travelland organizes tours for foreign students to enhance their life skills. Buffalo Tours is known for treatment tours for tourists who are doctors. They go to remote villages to examine and heal the residents.
Hoi An Travel has tours in which visitors can become fishermen and farmers for a day.
Some international organizations like Fauna and Flora International, Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), etc. have also developed community tours in Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa), Ta Van (Lao Cai), Quan Ba (Ha Giang), etc.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s Nguyen Anh Tuan maintained that the nature of community tourism is benefiting local communities. He explained that this is a vital factor in community-based tourism and cited Hoi An as an outstanding example.