ĐỒNG THÁP — More farmers in Đồng Tháp Province are offering tourism services related to agriculture, helping them add to their incomes.
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province is well known for its flowers, ornamental plants and fruit orchards.
In its Sa Đéc City, more than 2,300 households grow flowers and ornamental plants on a total of 700ha, mostly used for decoration.
In recent years many of them have begun welcoming sightseers to their flower and ornamental gardens.
There are now various well – known agricultural tourism destinations like Cai Dao – Sa Nhiên flower road and flower gardens like Ngôi nhà Hoa ếch, Hai Cao, Happy Land Hùng Thy, and Ngọc Lan.
Phạm Thanh Tâm, owner of the Cánh đồng hoa hồng (Rose field) tourism site in Tân Quy Đông Ward, said besides a 2.5ha rose garden for tourists, he also has a 5,000sq.m farm growing gourds to sell to them.
Thousands of tourists visit his site every day, he said.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc, head of the Sa Đéc Economy Bureau, said besides for the main flower season for Tết (Lunar New Year), farmers also grow flowers and ornamental plants year-round and this adds to the beauty of the city, attracts tourists and offers farmers an income all year.
Her agency encourages farmers to diversify what they grow and also not focus only on Tết to avoid oversupply, she said.
Farmers earn an average of VNĐ400 million (US$17,500) per hectare of flowers and ornamental plants annually, many times higher than they would get from rice, she said.
The flowers and ornamental plants are also exported to Cambodia.
They are identified as among the province’s key agricultural products.
Local authorities encourage farmers to develop community tourism.
Known as the land of the pink lotus, the province is increasingly attracting tourists to its lotus fields and fruit orchards.
In lotus fields visitors can go around by boat to fish and try speciality foods made from various parts of the flower-like stem, root and seed.
They attract more than 10,000 tourists a month, mostly from HCM City and neighbouring provinces.
In Lai Vung District, well known for its beautiful pink mandarin and orange orchards, nine welcome tourists and offer them services including food.
Pink mandarin is the province’s speciality fruit, is popular for its delicious taste and beautiful colour, and is especially in demand during Tết.
Đoàn Văn Kiệt pioneered tourism on his 5,000sq.m pink mandarin orchard in Lai Vung’s Long Hậu Commune seven years ago.
In the beginning he was worried because it was totally new to his family, he said.
“Serving and communicating with tourists [are difficult] because each have their own demand.
“It is not easy … but if [we] are ready to learn, [we] will certainly be successful.”
His family earns hundreds of millions of đồng a year from selling entrance tickets, food and fruits to tourists in the orchard, he said.
Ngô Quang Tuyên, deputy director of the province Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said with the support policies for developing agricultural tourism, many sites have been established and operating well in recent years.
“The agricultural tourism sites have helped diversify the province’s tourism products.”
The province has about 100 sites that offer agricultural tourism, which also help protect the environment and promote local cultures.
Phạm Thiện Nghĩa, chairman of the province People’s Committee, said there has been a success in developing tourism and the industry has been identified as one of the province’s most important ones.
The province is encouraging tourism start-ups by local people, and would pay closer attention to developing waterway and green tourism, he said.
It has invested in infrastructure for tourism development like roads leading to popular destinations.
This year it received more than 122,000 tourists during Tết in early February, 5 per cent up from last year. — VNS