Green and responsible tourism has become the focus of many discussions. However, there is not enough action being taken to protect the environment. Wanderlust Tips in April had a conversation with Mr. Nguyen Long, who has had the well received idea of using kayaks to collect trash on the Hoai River in Hoi An.
Hello Mr. Long. Recently, the community has heard a lot of stories about Kayak tours to clean up Hoai River. Could you introduce this tour to Wanderlust Tips’ readers?
Our clean-up tour is implemented along the route from Cam Thanh Coconut Forest to Hoi An Ancient Town;starting at 8.30am at the kayak tour office. After being instructed how to kayak for about 10 minutes, visitors know how control the kayak very well. On the waterway, similar to other boat tours on the river, visitors have the chance to see
the green coconut trees and admire the daily life of the local fishermen. Seeing the ancient town of Hoi An from kayaks is a really wonderful experience.
Moreover, kayaking to clean up the waterway is an extremely thought-provoking activity, it makes the river become greener, protects its aquatic species, and raises awareness among local people and tourists about the responsibility
they have for the surrounding environment. Each boat is equipped with bags and prongs, so that visitors can pick up bottles, plastic bags or indigestible garbage whenever they spot any and when the racket is full of trash it is transferred to other boats. Tours end at the Ancient Town at 12 noon and everyone is happy because the tour has contributed to the community. The experience is so much more special.
What made you come up with the idea for clean-up tours on the river?
Previously, I worked as a tour guide in Hoi An for a short time. When sailing along with visitors on the river, I often heard themcomplain when they saw lots of trash floating on the river. I felt really ashamed and did not know how to explain this to them.
Working in the tourism industry, I always think that Hoi An’s picturesque beauty is what keeps visitors coming and my career stable. So I came up with the idea of protecting Hoi An from pollution, while raising awareness among people about environmental protection.
Between the time when the idea arose in my mind and mid February this year, I was able to make it come true. I hope Vietnamese as well as international visitors will enjoy this activity so that people will be aware of rubbish more properly and that the project will spread sustainable and practical values for the whole community.
What are the difficulties when implementing clean-up tours on Hoai River?
Our most challenging is how to get travellers to spend money on a clean-up tour. Someone even asked: “Why must I pay money for cleaning up the river?” Changing this perception may take a long time.
In my opinion, if you pay for a normal rowboat tour with the price of 600,000 VND/person, why not buy one for only 220,000VND/person. You can still enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hoi An and contribute to the environment at the same time. That is sustainable tourism.
We are currently free of charge for all children or Vietnamese students who wish to participate.
How do visitors respond to the clean-up tour?
Regarding foreign tourists travelling with their kids or foreign students, they enjoy the tour because they can enjoy
sightseeing, while watching the daily life of local fishermen as well as participate in a significant activity. Foreign parents are fond of such educational activities because it is a very good way for them to communicate a message and set an example for their children. It’s a practical education activity, which creates a civilized way of living environmentally friendly in their community.
Although this is not their home, many visitors are really concerned when local people throw garbage into the river. Someone even asked me why people ruin their environment.
Do you plan to launch similar environmental protection tours to spread the message of sustainable tourism? What exactly will they entail?
Up to this point we have just been conducting sustainable tourism activities in Quang Nam and I hope to launch this project in many other provinces. Kayaking is a sustainable tourism model, as the kayak is run by manpower so it has no waste like emissions, and does not endanger marine species.
Another tourist model named Sleeping Camping is also under consideration. This is a model of nature-friendly tourism, without the need for permanent infrastructure that destroys the ecosystem as well as the beautiful nature of Hoi An.
How do you assess the impact of tourism on the environment today? How do you take concrete actions?
Tourism is called the green industry, the smoke-free industry, so many people mistakenly assume: “It does not affect the environment.” Yet it has direct impacts on our environment in many ways, in many ways such as garbage and emissions from traffic.
To improve this issue, I think the government should have modern machinery to handle the waste in a scientific way and nurture the sense and lifestyle of environmental protection of the younger generation.
Thank you and we hope you come up with even more great ideas for the community!
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