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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.

Agri-tourism, more visitors, Mekong Delta, agri-tourism models, sustainable agriculture, rural development, largest agricultural production area, cultural diversity

Gac (spiny gourd) fruit, which has special health benefits, grows in Thach Thao Garden in Tien Giang province’s My Tho City.

The delta attracts millions of visitors each year thanks to its cultural diversity, natural beauty and a large range of tourism products. In many localities in the delta, organizations 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.

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.

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

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.

Tran Anh Tuan, 58, owner of Thach Thao Garden in Tien Giang province’s My Tho city, said when he had noticed the growing desire of tourists to explore nature and agricultural products, he switched from growing vegetables, oranges and lemons, which are not economically efficient, to gac (Momordica cochinchinensis) fruit and many kinds of flowers.

In recent years, the city has helped farmers and artisans develop fruit gardens and traditional craft villages to enhance eco-tourism combined with agriculture, he said.

However, the services and products are still basic and on a small- to medium-sized scale. Many locals and provinces offer similar products.

Brand promotion and the use of information technologies are also needed. To achieve sustainable development, authorities in the Mekong Delta should strive for improved efficiency, On said.

Each locality in the region should improve connections between farmers, travel agents, local authorities, and agencies that represent tourism, agriculture, and trading activities.

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Source: VNS/VNA

Agri-tourism, more visitors, Mekong Delta, agri-tourism models, sustainable agriculture, rural development, largest agricultural production area, cultural diversity
 
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