Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Agri-tourism attracts more visitors to Mekong Delta

Farmers in the Mekong Delta have developed agri-tourism models that have not only increased their incomes but also contributed to sustainable agriculture and rural development in the area.

The Mekong Delta, which is the country’s largest agricultural production area, has great potential to develop ecotourism. It has been listed among the best destinations to visit in 2019 by the US travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

The delta attracts millions of visitors each year thanks to its cultural diversity, natural beauty and a large range of tourism products.

According to HCM City’s Department of Tourism, tourist demand to seek hands-on experiences has increased from 20-30 percent compared to recent years.

In many localities in the delta, organisations and individuals have begun to pour more investment in agri-tourism models.

The models help to both preserve traditional culture and increase farmers’ incomes.

Pham Van Hoang, 54, owner of Chin Hong Fruit Garden in Phong Dien district’s My Khanh commune in Can Tho city, said he grows star fruit, mango, rambutan, coconut and guava on 1.8ha.

The garden started opening to serve visitors as an agri-tourism model in August 2016. Tickets are 30,000 VND (1.3 USD) per person. Visitors can pick fruit to eat while relaxing later in the garden. “Visitors usually buy more fruits to bring home,” he said.

David Forrest, a French tourist, said he saw fruits that were never available in Europe. “This place was very interesting to visit. I’m going to visit rice fields to understand how farmers grow rice,” he said.

Hoang said that the eco-tourism model had helped him increase his income and expand production.

He earns a profit of about 400 million VND (17,245 USD) each year, with revenue from tourism accounting for 70 percent of the total.

Previously, he sold all the fruit directly to traders at cheaper rates, but now he sells 70 percent of fruits to visitors.

The garden welcomes about 130-150 domestic and foreign visitors daily, and up to 200 visitors on weekends and holidays.

Popular traditional dishes can be prepared to visitors’ orders with accompanying drinks served in the garden.

Hoang plans to open a homestay service in the near future to meet the demand of visitors.

Cao Van Hoa, deputy director of Tien Giang province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the most profitable model was agri-tourism, which contributes to sustainable agricultural development.

The province’s 77,000ha of fruit trees produce about 1.5 million tonnes of fruits each year.

Among these, durian trees are one of the key fruits with more than 12,000ha. Other fruits grown in the area are the blue dragon, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, star apple and many others.

Fruit farmers earn an annual profit of about 400 million VND (17,245 USD) per ha, with durian farmers earning about 1 billion VND (43,000 USD) per ha per year.

The value of fruit trees accounts for 64 percent of the total value of agricultural production in the province.

Combining agricultural production with tourism, farmers can raise their incomes by two to three times compared to the production and consumption of agricultural products, Hoa said.

“We plan to develop speciality fruits as the province’s key agri-tourism products in the coming years,” he said.

The department is working with the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism to design tours that will include visits to flower gardens, fruit and vegetable fields cultivated with high-tech methods, new rural areas, historic and cultural relic sites, and traditional craft villages.

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