Our new partner in Vietnam, Easia Travel, has taken the concept of green travel one step further than what is traditionally seen in southeast Asia by supporting specific environmental awareness, aquaculture training, heritage preservation, and gender equality initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of local communities as well as enhancing the travel experience for their clients.
We asked them to provide some additional perspective and insight into their sustainability goals, based on the results they are noticing from these various projects.
How much awareness is there about ‘green travel’ options within Vietnam?
Vietnam has not yet fully developed enough awareness for the ‘green travel’ concept. However, awareness has been rising gradually for the last 4 to 5 years due to increased understanding of global environmental issues.
As a tourism company, we have been taking actions to reduce the impact on the environment and its resources toward developing the country as a sustainable tourism destination. Although these actions countrywide are scattered, there is progress. For example:
- From the Government side: The birth of alternative transportation options (such as electric cable) to larger–scale projects like the Green Lotus Label for accommodations, the projects support the local people in restoring and promoting the traditional handicrafts, and encourage people to clear the environment surrounding them (such as picking up the litter on weekends, increasing the number of people using recycled products, daily clearing of the rubbish in Halong Bay, and so on),
- From the company side: Our company is coming up with and developing products that are friendly with the environment like biking tours, using partners which are qualified with a green certification, training and employing local people to work in a tourism community, among other activities. Over the years, we have developed a good awareness about green travel. We are recognized as ATR and we also rank highly as having sustainable tourism programs in Vietnam and in Cambodia.
- From the individual: The younger generation has started to carry out campaigns for Earth Hour or protecting our environment. Inside the company, we do not call it Green Travel. We name it all as Citizenship Actions because we are active citizens of the countries where we work.
On the whole, how does the typical Vietnamese citizen specifically define ‘green travel’?
At first, the general view of ‘green travel’ was only protecting the environment. However, after a few years, the concept of ‘green travel’ has been expanded to many wider factors like environmental conservation and benefiting local communities. Further to the definition, we are trying to orient and develop products aiming at ‘Citizenship Action‘, as mentioned before, and how it relates to ‘green travel’.
How does the above relate to wildlife conservation?
In Vietnam, wildlife conservation is a real issue. Many Vietnamese people do not understand the importance of wildlife conservation. We realize that the reasons for this are poverty and a lack of education about the benefits of conservation. With the development of green tourism initiatives, local people will have more of a chance to access information and take part in the green practice activities, which will offer them more education on preserving biodiversity thereby continuing the cycle. Also, tourism promises a more stable life and income for local people, which in turn decreases the likelihood of illegal hunting and nature exploiting situations.
Who are the typical beneficiaries of ‘green travel’ in Vietnam?
- Local communities: We believe that ‘green travel’ generally supports the local economy by specifically increasing the income of local people. Besides, it is also an opportunity for local people to learn about green practices, which that can also apply in their own home. This saves money, energy, water, and other resources.
- Company: We are contributing a more sustainable future that can help us preserve and develop our natural and cultural resources for the long-term.
- Tourists: Clients can experience unusual activities and meet real people during their trip. With their support, they can help build a community of like-minded people who share the same interests, vision and passion in growing ‘green travel’ .
In what way do communities get involved with ‘green travel’ in Vietnam?
- Accommodations and travel agents employ local people, which provide jobs and help the local people to obtain a more stable life.
- Travel agents and guides are trained to raise environmental, sociable and economical consciousness of local people before empowering them to take part in the tourism community. They also give local people a hand to promote traditional handicraft products by arranging and introducing the tours and extension to visit the handicraft villages.
What are Easia Travel’s social, economic, environmental goals for ‘green travel’ for the next 5 years?
Honestly, we do not consider ‘Green Travel’ as a travel segment equivalent to Adventure Travel or Luxury Travel. ‘Green Trave’l is transversal and needs to be proposed to all type of travelers. In fact, we are developing some real programs all over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. We have a strategy to develop ‘Green Travel’ programs in partnership with specialized Tour Operators that have the capacity to bring the minimum number of travelers to make the program profitable.
The other part of the strategy is to continue to create Citizenship Actions within local communities we are working with. All our professional clients can promote these actions in their classic, luxury or adventure programs.
What do you think is the most awesome ‘green travel’ experience on offer in Vietnam?
I think if clients join our tours and begin lending us a hand to encourage the development of ‘green travel’ in Vietnam not only lets clients experience a memorable trip but also supports our company’s efforts in boosting the development of local communities interested in engaging in ‘Green Travel’.
Check out our amazing Discover Green Vietnam trip where you’ll visit traditional Hanoi, bike through the ancient villages that make up Mai Chau Valley, stay on a small, luxury junk boat, take a night train to Hue, and participate in a cooking class. The trip provides the opportunity to experience Vietnam like a local!