Responsible tourism, which is common in western countries, is still in its infancy in Vietnam, with tour operators and hospitality providers starting to join the initiative.

Featuring in Vietnam’s tourism strategy for 2020, responsible tourism aims to protect and care for Vietnam’s diverse cultures and the environment whilst optimising business processes and ensuring economic sustainability.

The first project to kick-start the trend in Vietnam was the 11 million EUR ‘Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme for 2011-2015’ funded by the European Union.

By mid-2013, the programme had helped develop a policy framework outlining guidelines and concrete measures. Later on, the green lotus label for tourist accommodation was launched and adaptations were made to Vietnam ’s tourism occupational standards.

More travel operators are embracing the practices of responsible tourism, including electricity and water savings, waste treatment, sourcing food locally and providing job opportunities for disadvantaged members of society, including women and ethnic minorities.

At the forefront of responsible tourism, Vietravel launched a number of tours under the motto “Clean tourism – Clean means no indiscriminate waste disposal”, which included a number of measures, such as collecting rubbish in the southern beach town of Nha Trang and planting trees in Love Valley in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat.

The company has also switched to bio-nylon in response to its environmental protection campaign.

Another example is Lang Co resort in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue , which harnesses solar power and consumes locally-grown green food.

The three-star Majestic hotel in Nha Trang won the ASEAN Green Award in 2008.

In 2012, the hotel invested 2 billion VND (90,000 USD) in a waste treatment system.-VNA