Aus4EqualityGREAT storiesGrowing Tourism In VAT Village

Growing Tourism In VAT Village

Luong Thi Hong Tuoi and the Thai ethnic minority farming community of Vat Village have in recent times relied on tourists to supplement their incomes, but despite the recent downturn due to COVID-19, their prospects are much better now than even just a few years ago. 

Tuoi in her homestay

Like many rural villages, farming around Vat village was hard work for Tuoi’s family, and there was little reward for effort. “My family’s income was only based on agriculture, so it was only enough to spend on daily expenses,” Tuoi said. A bad season meant her family went without many things they needed for the children. And bad seasons came all too often. “In the past, 100% of households in the village depended on agriculture such as corn and rice, and it was an unstable income,” she said. The men made most of the decisions in the family since they were seen as the providers.

 

Sometimes tourists visiting attractions in the area would stop at Vat Village looking for accommodation. A few families welcomed visitors into their homes, but there was not enough to generate any real income. “I also renovated my house into a guesthouse to welcome guests, but there was only a small number of visitors. Participating in tourism at that time was completely spontaneous,” Tuoi said. 

 

Spending all their time trying to farm just to survive meant Tuoi, and most families in the village did not have the confidence or the capital to invest to develop tourism. It was not until Action on Poverty (AOP), with support from GREAT, started its community-based tourism project in the village, GROW, in 2019 that things rapidly changed.

Tuoi joining training on hospitality 

“I was quite shy, but after participating in the project’s training I am much more confident, especially when communicating with partners and clients,” Tuoi said.

The income of households participating in the project has also been significantly improved compared to before. Tuoi’s family’s income over the Lunar New Year was more than VND 70 million Vietnam (AUD $,4147). This figure is equivalent to the income for the whole year of 2018 when she was not involved in the project. 

 

AOP’s project aims to benefit as many village people as possible and to empower its women. “The most obvious change is that women in the village can assert themselves more and feel more confident,” Tuoi said. 

 

“We have also received help from our husbands with the housework. For example, formerly, my husband never washed dishes because it was considered to be a woman’s job. But now, because I must do other work, my husband also shares the housework such as cleaning and washing the dishes.”  They also share the work in looking after the homestay. Tuoi oversees welcoming guests and cleaning while Thuy, her husband, does the food shopping and cooking. 

Tuoi and her husband sharing farmwork

“What makes me happiest is the beaming smiles of our guests when they come back and notice the improvements”, concluded Tuoi.

 

Luong Thi Hong Tuoi and 15 other homestay owners in Vat Village are partnering with AOP and GREAT to implement the GROW community-based tourism project in Moc Chau, Son La. Project activities include skills development in hospitality, business and marketing, capacity building for women in group leadership, market linkages with travel agents and tour operators, a credit facility for households to start or upgrade their homestays and gender equality awareness for men and women. The project is expected to economically benefit 320 women, mainly from the Thai and Muong ethnic groups, as well as improving their confidence and financial literacy.

 

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