In addition to growing rice and vegetables, farmers in Yen Duc commune, Dong Trieu town, Quang Ninh province are both tourist guides and performing artists.
They might receive tourists in the morning, drive an electric car, cook a meal at noon, show tourists how to make sticky rice cakes and catch fish in the afternoon, and perform a water puppet show in the evening. These amateur tourist guides are helping to promote the beauty of Yen Duc commune.
Yen Duc has a rich revolutionary history, beautiful scenery and many relic sites. Its location on the Hanoi-Ha Long route is a big advantage when it comes to attracting visitors. Indochina Sails, a tourism company, began to exploit the commune’s tourism potential in 2011.
In Yen Duc, tourists can experience the life of a Vietnamese farmer – growing rice and vegetables, catching fish with traps, sleeping in a house typical of Vietnam’s northern region, watching water puppetry shows, listening to love duets, and visiting ancient houses close to 200 years old.
Nguyen Van Hien, a member of the Yen Duc cooperative, said they have become familiar with the model of community tourism.
“I used to do farm work before shifting to tourism. There were many problems at first but gradually we learned how to dress and how to communicate with tourists in order to leave them with a good impression of our commune,” Hien noted.
All the members of the Yen Duc cooperative are involved in tourism.
Nguyen Thi Huong, one of Yen Duc’s main tour guides, has been teaching English to other cooperative members to help them feel confident when pointing out the beauty of their commune to foreign tourists.
She said, “Learning English is difficult but when they start to experience the excitement of talking to foreign tourists, they all give their best effort. They have surprised themselves by learning to talk comfortably with tourists, who find it just as interesting to talk to the locals.”
By engaging in tourism, people in Yen Duc now have insurance and receive regular training to improve their communication skills. More importantly it brings them an extra income of US$150 a month.
Duong Thi Men, head of the Yen Duc cooperative, shared, “The locals know the history and culture of their area best so they will give tourists more information than what is written in guide books. We organize monthly training courses to teach them English and other necessary skills. We also launch contests for those interested.”
Jay Garret of Australia said, “I’m surprised to see what the farmers here can do. They gave me a professional and warm welcome, which make me feel special. I and my family will certainly come back.”
Yen Duc will soon start a homestay service which will allow tourists to stay with locals in their homes. This service will give everyone in the commune an opportunity to engage in community tourism.