More updates coming soon!
We are currently planning and coordinating a trip for the beginning of March. The trip will inclue Dr. Chris Bottrill as well as filmmaker Kyle Sandilands from Canada. The Canadian team will join the team from Hanoi Open University and head to Sapa.
A stakeholder meeting is planned for the March Trip. The goal will be to see a number of stakeholders (Taphin village, local and regional government, and members of private sector tourism – guides and tour operators) come together and come up with a plan to see better community based tourism in Taphin.
Updates to come soon!
August 2011 (update)
Most recently, as of late August it was reported that 1 Lao Chai homestay was granted a license and 2 more were ready to (re)apply.
The fifth training trip was been confirmed for mid June. Planning and the creation of modules took place following the May trip. Major results of the trip were a completed series of one-on-ones with village entrepreneurs and small business owners, the creation of a Taphin Community Tourism Plan, the development of the small Cultural and Tourism House to include an addition for a small market, signage. and some training in market-selling for street-vendours and collective marketing for Homestay owners.
Update on Lao Chai
On the June trip there were no planned activities for the village of Lao Chai. In may the project had exceeded the expectations of regional government by making a fourth trip to the village. However, a meeting with local youth leader Shu was held in Sapa.
Our experience in the Sapa region has granted us a connection with the young Hmong leader. Shu has been on a number of occasions been invited to attend the training session and workshops. We have also shared all information and training materials with her in hopes that she would volunteer as a trainer. Currently Shu is in the process of developing a community NGO to support the Hmong community through training.
The fourth training took place in May. The May trip was focused in the village of Ta Phin with a half-day planned in Lao Chai village. The training was led and conducted by Ms. Ngoc Anh’s HOU team and was supported by members of Sapa Sport, Culture and Tourism. A very successful FAM trip planned by the Ta Phin Homestay group and was conducted with very positive results. In Lao Chai, one-on-one consultations with potential homestay owners was also a secondary activity. As well, the beginnings of a small Cultural and Tourism House / Market was established in a building donated by the community.
The team did accomplish many of the goals set for May. Much of the training and activities were focused on and delivered to the homestay owners. The FAM trip was the vehicle for majority of the lessons learned.
A total of 18 participants from Sapa tour operators and Sapa Sport, Culture and Tourism attended the FAM trip; 4 of which stayed the night in the homestays. The FAM trip included a tour of the village and the homestays, herbal bath services, a traditional performance, and food and drink. All of the participants were very impressed with the Taphin product and some mentioned obvious improvements. The FAM trip also offered an opportunity for the tour operators and the Taphin homestay owners to discuss possible areas for increased partnerships. Tour operators challenged the homestay owners to continually improve the services and the quality of the homestays. And, the homestay owners challenged the tour operators to increase the how much money was given for the accommodation. Consensus was made and latest reports confirmed that partnerships had generated revenues.
Finally a visit was made to Lao Chai to work with some of the Hmong villagers who had homestays that was near-ready. Those that were near ready consulted with Ms. Ngoc Anh and her team that included Sapa Sport, Culture and Tourism and supported in the application process for attaining homestay licences.
Kyle Sandilands, a grad from Capilano University’s Film Program produced a short promotional clip that was presented at the PATA Gala in Beijing. The film that was taken during the March trip is in the process of being cut into a multi-part documentary.
The focus of the trip was training. The team of trainers was the largest thus far compared to past trips. Joining the Canadian and Vietnamese team, Sapa Sport, Culture and Tourism continued their support by providing qualified tourism specialists to assist in the training, workshops, and community tourism planning, both in Ta Phin and in Lao Chai. Among the topics covered, training was delivered in: Tourism planning to Ta Phin local government; Events management and planning; Entrepreneurship: Financial Management; Business development and consultation; Environmental stewardship (for village children and youth); Better selling skills: Specialization, Advantages of a Market Setting, and English Phrases; Homestay management for all Ta Phin homestay owners; Homestay product Development and Food Safety (Lao Chai village).
Ta Phin Homestay owners have cooperatively planned a two-day familiarization (FAM) trip for Sapa tour operators. They expect approximately 20 participants to visit Ta Phin and stay in the homestays. The FAM trip is planned for May 25 in coordination with the May training trip.
A mock street market was set up as a demonstration and a learning opportunity for street sellers in Ta Phin. This student volunteer-led initiative was enthusiastically participated in. In a debrief session participants presented the need for future brainstorming sessions to produce a means for the street market to continue.
Local Government and members of the Ta Phin CBT Management Board have begun to make their way towards a Draft Tourism Plan for the village of Ta Phin. Among the meaningful results of the workshop is a tourism mission statement for the village (
see below for un-translated version). Representatives from Ta Phin have also proudly presented the mission statement to Sapa Regional Authority.
Approximately 14 entrepreneurs and small business owners participated in a student volunteer-led sign making workshop. Using local materials, participants made English signs for their businesses and future ventures.
Finally, a community planning and engagement session was held with the primary topic being a proposed Community, Culture, and Tourism House for the village of Ta Phin. A total of 55 people were in attendance to discuss and debate on the design and ownership issues. A more detailed plan of what the possible ‘House’ would look like as well as who would manage the structure was fleshed out.
In regards to the training subjects covered, in some cases the modules would include two, or more training sessions. The subsequent sessions being; review or more advanced lessons. Attendance at the training sessions, in few cases, were recorded lower than previous training trips (10 – 20 learners) however, the participants who are coming to the sessions could be defined as the “key learners” and leading tourism professionals in their respected area of expertise. This emergence of leaders has allowed the training to become specialized, and in many cases, has created opportunity for meaningful one-on-one consultations, and has enabled the trainers to push forward with higher level training.
Beyond the actual planned training sessions, the project team and learners organized practical-learning workshops with homestay owners, street-sellers, local government, and entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as one community engagement session.
Representatives of the Ta Phin community facilitated through the workshops also came up with a village mission statement related to tourism. Below, is the working mission:
Ta Phin commune is proud to have developed community-based tourism activities. We not only provide herbal bath and handicraft – known across the country – but also homestays, cultural and culinary traditions, natural scenic caves, and rice terraces. We must be friendly to customers, maintain the product, and encourages local traditions. We must preserve environmental hygiene and not follow nor annoy the tourists to please them, villagers, the company tourism. In doing so local authorities will complete our mission.
Because the trip’s focus was primarily training work shops, there was a lack of time for one-on-ones. However, there was some opportunity to consult with some of the entrepreneurs and small business owners. Some of the activities being implemented by the Ta Phin tourism leaders are: improvements to their homestays (more beds, signage, and improved herbal bath areas), the opening of an antiques and essential oils shop in a shared space, photo information booklet for tourists by brocades sellers for product information, and marketing (mainly to Sapa tour operators).
Homestay Training in Lao Chai
In the village of Lao Chai, where a one-day intensive training session was delivered in community based tourism and homestay skills development (Food Safety, Sanitation and Maintenance, Customer Service, Presentation of facilities and amenities), attendance from the community was excellent. The trainers had expected approximately 20 to 25 participants but the turn-out was recorded at over 45.
The project team on the ground for Training Trip 2 included Ms. Ngoc Anh and two Hanoi Open University Students, as well as, two members from Sapa Trade and Tourism to assist and participate in the training. A total of 9 training sessions were held for Local Authority, Community, Youth, and Entrepreneur and Business Owner groups. Total number of village participants in the training was nearly 50 (slightly down from August but this could be because of the lack of a Children’s Environmental Stewardship Class).
Out of the the mini-business development plans (approximately 12), over half of the participants had either completed or at least made some progress in completing their goals. Examples of business developments included:
Among the results of the training trip, five developments, in particular, deserve special attention. They include:
1. The creation of a CBT Management Board voted in by members of the community at the community meeting. The five member CBT Management Board includes the village authority, a representative of the village police (both Hmong men), a homestay representative, a representative of the embroidery products (both Dao women), and one young Dao women representing youth and cultural performances. The group will help in managing future CBT village activities, be proactive to change and sustainable development.
2. The development of a Ta Phin Calendar of Events for one year outlines possible areas for tourism product development.
3. The creation of a Homestay Committee by homestay owners which will work to manage the village’s accommodation standards, as well as possibly take on Ta Phin homestay marketing and event initiatives.
4. An application for permission to build a Community, Tourism, and Culture House to the district authorities. This is a self-initiated step taken by the community and village authority to attain approval to build on a community-selected piece of land in the heart of Ta Phin.
5. A formal community and stakeholder meeting was held. This time the venue was the local government office in Taphin. This is would have been the second major meeting in the past 6 months in Ta Phin that was held to discuss tourism and the village. The participants showed an increase in participants and in stakeholder groups in comparison from the August meeting. A total of 48 people were in attendance, representing a meaningful proportion of the Dao and H’mong (new) community, the local government, Sapa Trade and tourism, small community tourism business owners, youth, and the village police (new).
Capilano University engaged in a Tourism Faculty student selection process. After a rigorous interview process five student volunteers were selected representing a wide spectrum of the faculty. Students selected included: Jase Wilson, Kyla Derkach, Louise Wirtz, Taryn Budrug, and Jen Miller.
Go to the Project Team page to see more about the whole project team.
Before even commencing on this first of six training trips, the results of the the Needs Assessment trip were synthesized and transformed into a set of training modules and lesson plans designed and written for five specific training groups. These modules were then translated and illustrated.
The training trip consisted of 5 full days of training and information gathering in two villages. A total of approximately 60 locals were trained in a variety of tourism-related business development, planning, and environmental stewardship lessons and workshops. On the final day a community tourism planning workshop was held, and a preliminary plan for a Community House Market was formed.
June saw the completion of the needs assessment trip, as well as gained partnerships with local and regional government, as well as the communities. Some of the results of the needs assessment trip include:
- Approvals granted by local and regional authorities.
- We engaged with a number of stakeholders including: government; Sapa Sport, Culture and Tourism; village youth and women; Women’s Union; Youth Union; small business owners; local guides; and tourism private sector to name a few.
- A training plan was proposed based on the information gained from the stakeholders and the Ta Phin community.
- Training would include: Business Development, Understanding the Tourist, Better Selling Skills, Looking after the Environment, Tourism Planning for local Government, Developing and Managing Events.
- Ta Phin community strongly believes a central community house is an important element needed for sustainable community tourism development.
- Regional government proposes community based tourism skills-based training for homestay development for the Lao Chai community.