FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative
Dedicated to using tourism as a means to protect vulnerable ethnic communities, CBT Vietnam developed sustainable tourism training initiatives in the rural villages of Tavan, Taphin, which have become completely self-sufficient, and Lao Chai. These local communities have been empowered to establish tourism-related businesses and homestays.
CBT Vietnam began after an instructor from Capilano University (one of CBT Vietnam’s founding partners) visited the region and was inspired by the potential of working with unique villages and cultures to develop community based tourism programs. Since then CBT Vietnam has demonstrated a long-term commitment to protecting vulnerable, ethnic hilltribe culture through tourism. In addition to their on-the-ground training programs CBT Vietnam promotes awareness of vulnerable cultures and responsible tourism through their web presence, films, and social media.
From the beginning ommunity involvement has been essential in developing CBT Vietnam’s programs. Before any programs could be implemented CBT Vietnam spent a lot of time building relationships and trust in the communities where they planned on working. Since then the communities have embraced the value and uniqueness of their cultures. Many of the training modules and learning initiatives were generated by the communities, which ensures members are engaged and take ownership of their economic futures.
CBT Vietnam’s training initiatives include providing general tourism knowledge to the community, community tourism planning for local authorities and community stakeholders, entrepreneurship for youth and women, business development, and environmental stewardship. In the future CBT Vietnam hopes to establish an independent school in association with a local social enterprise that will maintain training for all ethnic groups in the Sapa region.
During their training local participants were given opportunities to experience tourism from a different perspective by travelling to Hanoi and becoming consumers of tourism services themselves. They met with tour operators, patroned hotels and restaurants, and utilised visitor information services. The experience allowed the participants to learn about what makes a positive tourism experience so they can improve the services they offer visitors to their community.
For more information about CBT Vietnam, visit their website: http://www.cbtvietnam.com/