Community tourism has flourished in districts and cities in northern mountainous Lao Cai Province, luring more visitors.
According to Ha Van Thang, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the province is home to a variety of annual festivals, mostly held in spring time, attracting a huge volume of tourists and local residents.
Medital Barneam, an Israeli tourist, said she was attracted by the local culture and landscapes of the northwestern region, especially Lao Cai province. She particularly praised the great number of traditional festivals, crafts, cuisine, and relics.
The province is expected to receive hundreds of thousands of tourists during the upcoming long holiday from April 30 to May 1, with a majority of them finding accommodation in home-stays in ethnic villages.
In early April, Bac Ha district launched a night market with a wide range of activities, including artistic performances, traditional food tasting and souvenir selling to attract more tourists during holidays and weekends.
A number of new tours and community-based services have been organised in Bat Xat district, such as a hiking tour from Ta Giang Phinh in Sa Pa to Nam Pung in Bat Xat. Such mountain climbing tours are expected to attract nearly 5,000 arrivals, most of them foreigners.
The district aims to boost publicity campaigns to introduce the beauty of the local nature and culture, according to a local cultural official.
Nearby Si Ma Cai district has also developed market tours, taking visitors to Can Cau buffalo market. Meanwhile, dozens of hectares of buckwheat flower have also been grown in the locality, attracting more than 5,000 tourists in 2014.
A tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, Le Van Ngo, praised the improvement in the infrastructure and living conditions in Lao Cai during the last decade. He hopes that more incentives will be devised to develop community tourism for economic development, in tandem with local cultural preservation and environmental protection.
Lao Cai is home to 16 ethnic groups, with their own cultural identities, customs, traditions and languages. The town of Sapa is one of the best established tourist destinations in the region.
The province expects to receive 1.2 million visitors in 2015.