Experiencing a farmer’s lifestyle is becoming a popular draw for international tourists traveling through the Southeast Asian nation.
Buffalo riding tours are a highlight for visitors.
Experiencing a farmer’s life
Located in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam, Tra Que vegetable village is just a short bike ride away from the famed Hoi An Ancient Town.
Rural landscapes and lush fields of mint, basil, and savory have kept Tra Que vegetable village near the top of Quang Nam’s top tourist destinations since 2007.
Under 75-year-old farmer Nguyen Thi Xiem’s gourd truss, German couple Erwin and Bettina listen closely as the weathered famer explains how she grows each vegetable without the aid of the heavy duty machinery so common in western countries.
“Back to Germany, we grow vegetables en masse. It differs greatly from here,” Erwin said.
“But this place definitely gave us an unforgettable experience because it enables us to live closer to nature and experience manual farming. We value traditional agriculture more.”
Tra Que welcomes hundreds of visitors every day, directly benefiting village’s the 200 households.
“Prior to serving foreign tourists, the local residents struggled to make ends meet, mainly by selling vegetables to earn a living,” Xiem said.
“Life has become much easier since we began welcoming several groups of tourists each day. Foreigners love coming here because we grow vegetables organically, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides,” he explained.
|Erwin, a German tourist, is excited to be a farmer. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
A need to be more professional
During a seminar titled “Stable Agriculture and Ecotourism Development in Hoi An”, representatives of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism stated that facilitating tourism in combination with agricultural development is of great interest to tourists.
The seminar underlined that such initiatives simultaneously improve the quality of life in local villages; however the country lacks sufficient high-quality agricultural tourism products.
Many destinations are currently only meeting the very basic needs of visitors and aren’t yet providing the right conditions for tourism to thrive.
Besides Tra Que, Quang Nam is also home to several other tourist attractions , including An My vegetable village, Cam Nam corn village, Thanh Ha pottery village, and Cam Thanh water coconut forest.
The real thing holding back a tourism boom, some say, is ‘negative behaviors’ from certain farmers.
According to Tran Van Khoa, director of an agri-tourism tour in Hoi An - Jack Tran Tours, farmers are sometimes unfriendly to tourists.
“They cancel itineraries at the last minute or keep visitors waiting,” he elaborated.
To solve the problem, Khoa’s company pays farmers to have them grow produce right on their own fields at high prices with competitive incentives.
“Their job is to lead visitors to the field and instruct them on how to grow rice or ride a buffalo,” Khoa said.
A win-win situation
Integrating agriculture into tourism benefits the business, farmers, and tourists all together.
To farmers, the profit from tourism is often higher than that from production.
To tourists, the experience is unique because manual agriculture is so rare in industrialized nations.
According to Khoa, agri-tourism enables rustic, picturesque Vietnamese villages to become more attractive in international visitors’ eyes and opens doors for long term development.