Phase 2: Developing New Interventions

As a result of Mr. Duong’s understanding of tourism and his appreciation for the needs of various actors, he was able to develop an optimum solution that had the potential to create a win-win situation for all involved. He proposed an ‘alternative’ CBT model with the following key criteria: (1) Ensure hygiene and sanitation, especially in bathroom and toilet areas; (2) Sleeping and dining areas should be separated and tourists should have privacy space at the homestay; (3) Overall designs of CBT (e.g., homestay structure, souvenirs, value-added activities) should reflect local cultures and utilize local materials; (4) CBT activities should be well- integrated into local people’s lives (e.g., weaving, vegetable planting, traditional dance performing) (Duong Minh Binh, 2015).

Phase 3: Implementing Interventions

During the implementation phase of this CBT model, practical training using a hands-on coaching-style was applied to develop tourism expertise within the local community. Moreover, Mr. Duong’s connection with the industry led to the voluntary engagement of many other tourism and hospitality experts. For instance, a chef from a 5-star hotel was introduced to the community to provide training in the professional preparation and presentation of food and beverage. Local hosts learned how to create and present visually attractive meals with a mix of local specialties and popular dishes that could cater to diverse visitor tastes (Nguyen, 2013).

Importantly, to facilitate a sense of autonomy and engagement throughout the community, local people were encouraged to become major investors in the CBT project. To assist resource poor local entrepreneurs, COHED provided minor in-kind support (i.e., mattresses, bedding and curtains) and encouraged the use of free, local environmentally-friendly materials such as bamboo to upgrade existing stilt houses. Commenting on her family’s involvement with CBT, Minh Tho who is a local farmer turned tourism entrepreneur stated: ‘VND80 million (nearly US $4000) was a fortune for us, but I finally decided to invest knowing that poverty cannot be eliminated without taking some chances’ (Nguyen, 2013, p. 1). In December 2012, Minh Tho homestay was opened, followed by two other home- stays in 2013.

At the onset, Mai Hich CBT adopted a strategy of continuously taking into consideration tour companies’ and tourists’ ideas on the products and services they would like to experience. Consequently, the provision of value-added activities such as trekking and stream crafting (amongst others) have since been included to meet market needs, resulting in a steady increase in tourists into the area, and continued positive promotion from both domestic and international tour operators.

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