Vietnam targets poverty with tourism

An ILO project generates job opportunities for local people in remote villages

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015


Tourism industry the world over is witnessing a boom, but in Vietnam it has been one of the key driving forces of the economy. Tourism in this Southeast Asian country has been a major source of job creation. A project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) uses tourism as a vehicle of poverty reduction in the rural and mountainous areas. The idea is to connect poor and isolated communities with the booming tourism industry, offering village people opportunities to sell their handicrafts, says an ILO report.

The project took off three years ago with three tourism villages opening their doors to visitors. Since then, it has developed a set of training materials for small and medium-sized hotels and guest houses and a training package for tour guides and drivers. Today, about 200 households in these villages make a total net profit of US $5,100 per month from tourism services and sales of handicrafts.

Women, in particular, have benefitted from this approach. Twenty-six-year-old Dinh Thi Thin got enrolled in tourism training at a college under the project and today works as a local tour guide. She is also the deputy director of a community-based tourism management board. “Tourism brought fresh air to our lives—something I would have never dreamt of before. The ILO project provided our village with useful knowledge on community-based tourism. Now I can do what I like and I am happy to see other villagers also opting for tourism to make their living, in addition to traditional farming,” the report quotes Thin, a resident of Bho Hoong village in the mountains of central Vietnam.

Developing neglected areas
Vietnam gets 7.8 million visitors every year, but for long tourism was limited to the popular destinations along the coast, leaving out the far-flung areas of the country. The ILO project seeks to promote a more balanced growth, and has brought under its ambit villages that were previously kept out of the development brigade, such as small inland villages in Quang Nam province. It has been successfully implemented in eight other provinces. “We plan to extend it to other localities so that more and more Vietnamese people could benefit from new productive work opportunities in the growing tourism sector,” ILO Vietnam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki says in the report.

“The tourism value chain and its significant connection to other sectors, such as agriculture, construction, utilities and transport can contribute to poverty reduction and economic development in Vietnam. One job in the core tourism industry indirectly generates 1.5 additional jobs in the related economy,” Sziraczki adds.

It is not just the local people who have benefitted from this experiment. According to Phan Thi Hien, manager of Active Adventure, a travel agency organising tours to Bho Hoong village, guests love their experience too and enjoy their homestay and local products made by the village people.
“It’s amazing and unique here. The people, scenery and culture are different from other parts of Vietnam,” Australian tourist Glenn Phillips, one of the first homestay visitors in Bho Hoong Village, told ILO in 2013

Toolkit for poverty reduction
The Luxembourg-funded project is based on the ILO Toolkit on Poverty Reduction Through Tourism, first published in 2011. The toolkit outlines the background to poverty reduction approaches within the context of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It is also part of ILO’s wider effort to “promote decent work in the tourism industry”. Till date, the toolkit has been implemented through workshops in Brazil, Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal, in addition to Vietnam.

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