Community tourism development: Reducing burden on forests

15:51 | 28/02/2017 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - Located in the biosphere reserve in the west of Nghe An Province, the Pu Mat National Park has a core area of 94,804ha and a buffer area of 86,000ha, covering three districts - Tuong Duong, Con Cuong and Anh Son. The national park has been inhabited by the Thai, Mong and Dan Lai people for a long time.  

Inhabitants of Pu Mat’s core and buffer areas have for generations relied on the forests for their living. Their lives were hard, and no serious investment had been made to protect the forests, either. In addition, a number of their traditional crafts and customs have fallen into oblivion.

Authorities in the region are now particularly interested in finding ways to preserve the traditional cultures of the people living in and around the national park. Their aim is twofold: environmental protection and sustainable development of tourism, which is expected to help increase residents’ incomes and reduce their dependency on the forest. Tourism development will also benefit the revival and preservation of the unique traditional cultures of the ethnic minorities living in and around Pu Mat.

A number of families in Nua Village in Yen Khe Commune of Con Cuong District have been chosen as beneficiaries of the tourism development project pertaining to preserving the environment and traditional cultures. The village has already become an attractive tourist destination promoted with the traditional culture of local ethnic minority people.

Nguyen Xuan Nam, Head of the Culture Division of Con Cuong District, said that previously, local tourist services were spontaneous and unprofessional; since 2014, with Japanese assistance, local governments provided guidelines and training courses for local residents to improve their tourist services and make them professional. “Tourism development has helped improved people’s lives in many villages. In the future, we will continue to propagate and make community tourism an economic development plan,” Nam said.

Lo Van Thuy from Mon Son Commune said he used to sail along the Giang River to the forests only for firewood, bamboo shoots and fishing. Now he carries visitors to the forests, charging VND250,000-300,000 per guest. The package service of transporting visitors to the national park’s core area (where the Dan Lai people live) could bring in VND1-1.2 million per boat, depending on the number of passengers. Thuy has passengers almost every day, and his family now has a house on stilts where guests are served local foods, earning total revenues of VND10-15 million per month.

Pu Mat National Park Director Tran Xuan Cuong said tourism development pertaining to environmental protection is regularly

promoted and explained by the park’s staff members, who also provide related training courses for local people.

Hoang Trinh