Tourism brings new hope for poverty reduction in Northwest hinh anh 1A plum valley in Chieng Co commune of Son La province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The northwest mountainous region, a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists, aims to turn tourism into a spearhead economic sector that helps eliminate poverty among local ethnic minority groups.

The northwest comprises eight provinces - Phu Tho, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Yen Bai, Ha Giang and Hoa Binh, and is home to 32 ethnic minority groups. Despite its rich natural, cultural and historical values, the region remains poor slow socio-economic growth, poor infrastructure, and low literacy rates.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, in 2016, the region had the highest poverty ratio at 31.24 percent averagely to the multi-dimensional poverty line for the 2016-2020 period, including many provinces with over 30 percent of poor households such as Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Lai Chau and Son La.
Tourism brings new hope for poverty reduction in Northwest hinh anh 2A pilot flies the Mu Cang Chai district’s Khau Pha mountain pass of the northwestern province of Yen Bai during a paragliding festival in September 2017 (Source: VNA)

Over the years, the regional provinces have focused on developing tourism to improve their economy. Tourism has brought positive changes for the region. Notably, tours to poor and disadvantaged localities have helped reduce poverty and increased local incomes.

Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Van Tuan pointed out that the region’s biggest advantages are its spectacular natural landscapes, unique culture and glorious history, all favourable conditions for tourism growth.

According to the Steering Committee for Northwest Region, the region has great potential for tourism development thanks to its diverse terrain, untouched nature, fresh climate and diverse ecosystems.

The northwest is rich in natural landscapes, such as Fansipan mountain and Hoang Lien National Park in Lao Cai, Mu Cang Chai terraced fields in Yen Bai, Muong Phang forest with rare floral and animal species in Dien Bien, peaceful Mai Chau valley in Hoa Binh, Moc Chau plateau in Son La, and Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang.
Tourism brings new hope for poverty reduction in Northwest hinh anh 3Ma Pi Leng Pass in Ha Giang province (Source: VNA)
Meanwhile, the region also has the cultures of more than 30 ethnic minority groups such as Tay, Nung, Thai, Muong, Mong, Dao, Kinh, Hoa, Kho Mu, Ha Nhi, Xo Dang, Giay, Lo Lo, Pa The, Phu La, Bo Y, Mang and Si La. They have maintained their traditional cultural identities, with unique festivals, costumes, dances, songs, musical instruments, architecture and food.

Local conditions make community-based and eco-tourism suitable. Homestays have also exploded in popularity in some localities like Lao Cai and Hoa Binh.
In recent years, tourist arrivals to northwest localities have risen. Last year, the region welcomed nearly 18 million visitors, up 11 percent year on year. 

However, insiders said that the region’s tourism has yet to match its potential, as tourism products remain poor with loose connections, resulting in low competitiveness.

The most important factor to develop tourism in the northwest was coordination, said Vu The Binh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association.

Deputy head of the committee Hau A Lenh said the committee would coordinate with localities to develop tourism development strategies and tourism products for each locality.
As part of efforts to promote regional strength in tourism, the National Tourism Year 2017 Lao Cai – Northwest was launched in February with the theme “The Colours of the Northwest”.

The event aims to contribute to introduce domestic and foreign tourists to the northwest as a cultural space for more than 30 ethnic minority groups, a land of impressive natural landscapes, diverse ecosystems and attractive and unique festivals.

Throughout the year, various activities are taking place, including six events organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 10 others held by Lao Cai province, and 13 by other regional localities.

This year, the regional localities have focused on promoting their eight major typical tourism products, including community-based tourism to introduce the people, culture, land and living style of locals; the exploration of terraced paddy fields in Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai; the experience of mountainous markets; the spiritual tourism along Red River; tours along Da River; the Northwest flower tours to enjoy typical flowers of the region in different seasons; the historical tours in Dien Bien; and mountain peak tours.


Tourism brings new hope for poverty reduction in Northwest hinh anh 4Ban Gioc Waterfall, located on the Vietnam-China borderline, is in Dam Thuy commune of Cao Bang province's Trung Khanh district (​Source: VNA)

This year, Lao Cai, the host of the National Tourism Year 2017, is expected to welcome about 4 million visitors for the year.

In the first quarter of 2017, the provincial tourism sector served nearly 230,000 tourists, up 56.6 percent year on year, with revenue reaching 3.22 trillion VND, up 150 percent over the same period last year.

The event is hoped to help attract more investment in regional tourism, thus improving the infrastructure system in regional localities and the living conditions of locals.

At the same time, it is expected to raise regional community’s awareness in tourism development, while boosting connectivity among regional localities in the field.-VNA
Vũ Thị Lộc VNA