Come with an open heart. Leave with a bag full of stories.
Although Da Bac is one of the poorest regions of Hoa Binh province in Vietnam, people such as Sanh, Thao and Hoan have worked hard to create their own livelihoods and break the poverty cycle.
But through Community Based Tourism (CBT), these inspiring individuals have set up their own long-term livelihoods, and brought much-needed income to the region.
Sanh is one of the first locals you meet when you arrive in Da Bac. Sanh left home at 18 to find work in Hanoi, first at a restaurant and then at a rubber plantation. The low wages and job insecurity were a constant worry.
Thao was also working away from home. This young mum was forced to leave her 14-month-old daughter at home five days per week for her low-paying job as a teacher. She only saw her family on weekends, and struggled to cover her mother-in-law’s medical bills.
Meanwhile, Hoan was struggling to feed her family, including her two children, by catching shrimp. She didn’t have the materials she needed to make her own shrimp traps, so she was forced to purchase traps from traders – a huge expense for her small-scale business.
Tourism comes to town
When tourism came to the neighbourhood, both Sanh and Thao decided to join the project. They renovated their stilt houses into authentic homestays. With their friendly and welcoming personalities, both are natural hosts.
Choosing another path, Hoan became a member of a local shrimp trap weaving group. Together with other women in her village, she learned how to weave her own traps using a bamboo-splitting machine, which is much cheaper and more efficient than purchasing traps.
Reaping the rewards
Thanks to people like Sanh, Thao and Hoan, the CBT project has grown rapidly. More than 100 locals are now participating in the project and earning higher incomes. They have taken ownership of the project, and now work together to keep their successful social enterprise running.
Sanh not only operates a homestay, but also takes care of his fish cages on the nearby lake. This energetic young man is always on the go, rising at 4am to fish, before returning at 6am to prepare his guests’ breakfast.
Thao loves to receive visitors. With her husband’s full support, Thao earns a decent income from homestay management. This allows her to cover living expenses, pay her mother-in-law’s medical bills, and cover her little girl’s tuition fees.
Hoan saves her family nearly $3,000 per year with her weaving skills. Every day she makes high quality traps using bamboo collected in the fields and processed by the machine. Hoan is now delighted to spend extra money on the family’s meals.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Community-based Tourism project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and by Irish Aid.