Lao Cai province braces for ‘tourism year'
Update: Feb 18, 2016
The northern province of Lao Cai is concentrating on developing local tourist attractions in order to host the National Tourism Year in 2017.

Ha Van Thang, Director of the Lao Cai Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said the province will create a series of local tourism products with sustainable and competitive features to woo tourists from Europe, the United States and neighbouring countries in the Southeast Asia.

There are now 12 tourist community hubs in the province. Each household in the hubs can get an income of at least between 10 million VND and 20 million VND (450 to 900 USD) per year.

Villages that host tourism community models have a wealthier population than other villages with poverty being eradicated three to four times quicker than that in other villages.

Newly established tourism community models include Ta Van Chu (Bac Ha district), Cat (Sa Pa district) and Cao Son (Muong Khuong district).

According to Hoang Thi Vuong, head of the provincial Department for Planning and Developing Tourism Resources, the province has been bogged down by various obstacles during the process of developing tourist attractions.

"First, we have had difficulties in persuading local communities to join the tourism projects," Vuong said. "Not every household is ready for change. We had to organise visits for them to successful families joining tourism community projects to exchange and understand what should be done."

According to Thang, the province will enhance connectivity between localities in the province with other provinces.

"The province now aims to promote two tourist attractions. The first named Mountain Colours, combines the east of Lao Cai province with Ha Giang province. The tours here include traditional markets in mountains, villages, traditional festivals, handicrafts and beautiful places at Bac Ha, Si Ma Cai, Muong Khuong as well as neighbouring Ha Giang.

"Customers for the tour will be mainly culture researchers and exploring tourists," he said.

Another group of local tourism attractions are the western districts of the province including Sa Pa and Bat Xat districts connecting Lai Chau province. The route covers spectacular views of O Quy Ho Pass, Phanxipan Mountain Peak, Ngu Chi Son Mountain Range, and Bach Moc Luong Tu Peak, in addition to Phu Lan Gia Peak, where ethnic groups such as Giay, Ha Nhi, Mong and Dao live and play host to tourists. Most customers on this route are exploring tourist and mountain trekkers.

The two groups of tourism attractions will take priority and will be developed as key routes for The National Tourism Year 2017 in Lao Cai and western region, Thang said.

Thang further said that three provinces of Phu Tho, Yen Bai, and Lao Cai, have established a spiritual tourism route to the pagodas and temples along the Hong (Red) River. The route runs through terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai district in Yen Bai, Sa Pa district in Lao Cai, as well as southern China.

Lao Cai has also been active in co-operating with seven other provinces in the north western region to extend the North Western Arc to allow tourists to stay longer in the region.