VietNamNet Bridge – Southern residents can see the great potentials in orchard tourism, but they still find it difficult to design new orchard tourism products to attract travelers.
The promising prelude
In late March 2011, a delegation of officials from the HCM City Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, together with the representatives of 15 travel firms took a special tour: they surveyed the orchards and ecotourism sites in Hoc Mon and Cu Chi districts in the suburb areas of the city – the first step in the plan to develop orchard tourism.
Before the trip, Le Hong Hoanh, Deputy Director of the agriculture department, said that the environs of the HCM City, including Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, districts 2 and 9 have many attractive orchards and gardens, many of which can be developed into the new tourism sites which can provide new destinations to tourists and bring revenue to farmers.
The presence of the officials from both the agriculture department and travel firms in the trip shows that both of the sides understand well the mutual benefits in their cooperation.
Entering the villa H20 in Dong Thanh commune in Hoc Mon district, a lot of people got a nice surprise because they could not imagine that there could be such a convenient villa with all modern facilities for tourists, which is just 18 kilometers far away from the HCM City’s center. Everything can be found here, at Villa H20, from the guest house, swimming pool, tennis field, restaurants, fishing area, and rowing area.
It was one more surprise to them when hearing that the service fees at H20 are just equal to a half of that in the city. Huynh Dat, the manager of Villa H20 said that H20 has been existing for the last seven years, but the investor can only advertise for the ecotourism site when the transport system can be upgraded.
The Trung An cluster of ecotourism orchards in Cu Chi tunnel, though having not been invested heavily like H20, also has specific attractiveness. The orchards in Trung An area with luxuriant fruits – mangosteen, guava, durian, rambutan and sugar cane – have caught the full admiration of visitors.
According to the HCM City agriculture department, 50 percent of the area in Trung An Commune has the special natural border – the Saigon river system, therefore, the area gets fresh water all year round. Taking full advantage of the natural conditions, households there have joined forces to create ecological orchards which covers an area of 36.5 hectares. The ecotourism site has begun catching the attention of tourists, who like to go there every Tet.
The 5-hectare ornamental garden in Phu Trung Commune in Cu Chi district, the orchid garden of Tuyet in Hoa Phu Commune, or Hải Thanh Aquarium, an ornamental fish production center have also become well known.
Le Huu Dung, General Director of Hai Thanh Aquarium said that he has been trying to develop an ecotourism site for the last many years, and that he is planning to build the houses for tourists to stay on the land plot next to the ornamental fish area.
In the wonderful areas with flowers, natural lakes and ponds, urbanites would be able to stay away from the suffocating and noisy atmosphere in the city and enjoy the fresh air in the hick towns and relax in the true meaning of the word.
Orchards tourism still awaits a conductor
Though possessing such wonderful conditions, the orchards’ owners in Hoc Mon and Cu Chi districts still have been “amateurs” in developing tourism. Except the H20 villa which has been clearly designed for serving tourism, other orchards still do not have any detailed programs for development.
Hoang Loc from Saigontourist said that the orchards in Lai Thieu area once served as the attractive destinations for urbanites at weekend. However, due to the lack of investment and the loosened cooperation between the orchards and travel firms, Lai Thieu has lost its attractiveness.
Xuan Nam, a high ranking official of the HCM City Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, has pointed out that HCM City needs to think of developing orchard tourism in a professional way. And in order to do that, Nam said, the city needs a good conductor who can lead orchards by the hand to develop.