Sustainable community development, the cycling way

16:42 | 13/11/2017 Travel

(VEN) - Whether to raise money for social causes or to highlight environmental protection, cycling tours are conducted around the world for the benefit of cyclists and communities.

sustainable community development the cycling way
Cyclists on the Cao Bang Brilliant Cycling trip

One such endeavor in Vietnam has a proven track record, and others are in the pipeline.

The Center for Rural Economy Development (CRED), an in-country off shoot of the HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation in Vietnam, in cooperation with the Vietnam Responsible Tourism Network (VRT) recently launched the Cao Bang Brilliant Cycling Trip in the northern mountainous province of Cao Bang. This follows the success of its Hoang Su Phi Mountain Bike Challenge in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang earlier this year.

The activities are designed to encourage participants to raise awareness of natural resources protection and community-based tourism development.

The Hoang Su Phi Mountain Bike Challenge attracted 23 Vietnamese and foreign cyclists. Apart from cycling, participants interacted with local residents and did a day of voluntary work that directly benefited a local ethnic minority village. The trip was free of charge but required a donation (VND2,000,000) to a local community fund. The VRT plans to offer additional tour packages and activities soon.

As one of the 23 participants in the Hoang Su Phi Mountain Bike Challenge, Gavino Strebel from Switzerland said Hoang Su Phi is great for cycling. “We met friendly locals, had the opportunity to watch the art performances like fire jump. This is a highlight of the tour. In addition, I enjoyed local delicacies. This is really a true experience and I think everyone should try it once,” he said.

The Cao Bang Brilliant Cycling trip attracted 21 participants from Australia, Switzerland, the US, France, Vietnam, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Fiji. During the four-day tour, cyclists pedaled through villages of the Nung and the Tay people living in Quang Uyen and Trung Khanh districts of Cao Bang Province. They bought fine art and handicraft articles worth VND5 million, and donated 51 piglets worth VND28.5 million to 51 struggling households in the Phia Thap Hamlet.

Cyclist Onnie Wong from Fiji said Cao Bang was beautiful, peaceful and clean, with mountains surrounding villages; traditional craft villages are close to each other so visitors could buy different local products without having to spend a long time travelling.

Sam Hai Bang, deputy director of the Cao Bang Tourism Company, said the tour was a significant activity that has great impact on not only the tourism industry but also other economic sectors of the province. Economic tourism is a sustainable way to development, which can help improve people’s awareness of environmental protection and traditional cultural value preservation.

Cao Dai Hung, Community-based Tourism Project Manager of the CRED, said previous rural development projects of HELVETAS and CRED in Ha Giang and Cao Bang showed that these areas are completely appropriate for community-based tourism development. Local communities can own and manage community-based tourism activities, giving visitors the opportunity to experience their cultures, working environment and lifestyles. Hoang Su Phi in Ha Giang and Trung Khanh and Quang Uyen in Cao Bang are home to many ethnic minorities with unique cultures. Picturesque landscapes, including terraced fields, limestone mountains and impressive waterfalls, have made these areas ideal for sustainable tourism development.

Thanh Tam