The Hoa Binh Lake tourist area is a key national-level tourist area of ​​the Northern midland and mountainous region, which has typical tourism products, unique cultures of many ethnic groups and the Hoa Binh Lake ecosystem with various types of tourism. This is an ecological zone responsible for the main functions of national and inter-regional technical infrastructure (with the Hoa Binh Hydro-power Plant, Hoa Binh Lake).

The wharf of Ha village (Da Bac). Photo: Thu Hoai Christie.

The development space of the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area is formed on the basis of the hilly landscape space, natural ecosystem, cultural and spiritual values ​​associated with the Hoa Binh lake bed.

The project is divided into six parts: The gateway area associated with the system of Bich Ha and Ba Cap ports; Hien Luong - Thanh Binh, Vai Nua concentrated tourist development zone (Da Bac district); the ecotourism development zone, wild nature in the North of the Hoa Binh lake ecosystem; the tourist subdivision of Ngoi Hoa - Thung Nai - Suoi Hoa (Cao Phong and Tan Lac districts); the tourism service subdivision in Phuc San commune (Mai Chau district); the natural eco-wildlife tourism subdivision associated with the Phu Canh Nature Reserve (Da Bac district).

After 5 years of implementing Resolution No. 14-NQ/TU dated June 22, 2017 of the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee on the development of Hoa Binh Lake tourist area into a national tourist area, tourism activities at the ​​Hoa Binh Lake tourist area have developed strongly and achieved 3/5 important criteria to gradually reach the conditions of a National Tourist Area.

The upgrading and expansion of a number of roads have created favorable conditions for attracting investment in tourism development. Some attractive eco-tourism destinations are operating very well and have attracted the attention of big investors and some large-scale tourism projects.

Recently, Hoa Binh province has invested in upgrading the road to Ba Cap Port with a length of 2.5 km, completed the project of upgrading provincial road 435 passing through Binh Thanh and Thung Nai communes of Cao Phong district and Ngoi Hoa commune of Tan Lac district. The province also built the main road of Sung Island, in Tien Phong commune, Da Bac district with a length of 2.25 km, at a cost of 18 billion VND, repair the yard for community activities in Xom Ke of Hien Luong commune, Da Bac district, improve the road to Ngoi village community tourist site and the road to Hoa Tien Cave in Suoi Hoa commune, Tan Lac district.

The Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area currently has 107 accommodation establishments, including 14 hotels from 1 to 3 stars, 32 motels, 61 community guesthouses with 1,383 rooms; employing 1,200 workers, including 700 direct and about 500 indirect employees.

In order to develop the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area, the local government has created favorable conditions for businesses to build eco-tourism zones and tourist attractions such as Mai Chau Hideaway, Ba Khan Village Resort, Coconut Island and to build community tourist attractions in Ke Halment, Da Bia, Ngoi Hoa, Mo Hem, Bich Tru, build a water park in Ngoi hamlet, Suoi Hoa commune with over 130 games.

Along with that, the province has developed a waterway tourist route on the Da River, passing through Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces; opened a walking and cycling tour along the two banks of the Da River in Tan Lac, Mai Chau and Da Bac districts; organized a weekend resort program in the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area, the experimental program in the Hoa Binh Lake, where tourists can join local residents in daily activities, the spiritual tourism program to visit the Thac Bo Temple, the tourism program that connects the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area with other tourist areas and attractions in the province and the Northwest route; effectively implemented the tourism development cooperation program of eight northwestern provinces with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the tourism development cooperation program with Hanoi and the northern provinces.

In 2021, due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area received only 150,000 visitors and earned a total tourism revenue of about 70 billion VND. In 2019, before the epidemic outbreak, the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area welcomed 550,000 visitors, accounting for about 17.7% of the total number of tourists to Hoa Binh Province (including 26,000 international visitors), and earned a total tourism revenue of VND 160 billion. It is estimated that in 2022, the province will welcome about 400,000 visitors. In the coming years, it is forecast that the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area will welcome over 500,000 visitors per year, meeting the criteria of the number of arrivals of a National Tourist Area.

According to Decree 168/2017/ND-CP of the Government, up to now, the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area has achieved 3/5 conditions to become a national tourist zone, including: having at least 02 tourism resources; being named in the list of potential areas for being a National Tourist Area approved by the Prime Minister; connecting to the national transport and telecommunications infrastructure system.

In the time to come, the province will continue to strengthen the leadership and direction of the Party committees and authorities in the implementation of the goals, tasks and solutions set out in Resolution 14-NQ/TU; design functional zoning plans in the Hoa Binh Lake tourist area to improve state management efficiency and attract investment in tourism development; mobilize resources from all levels and sectors to invest in the construction and management of this tourist area in accordance with the planning approved by the Prime Minister; ensure national defense, security and order, fire and explosion prevention, environmental protection and safety for this tourist area; complete the missing criteria so that the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area will meet the criteria of a National Tourist Area by 2025.

Hoa Binh will also prioritize investment in this project, promote the attraction of investment projects to develop tourism with 3-star standards or higher, which have high-quality entertainment and resort services, ensuring that by 2025 this tourist area will have a sufficient number of qualified accommodation establishments of 4-star standard as prescribed to qualify for becoming a National Tourist Area.

The local government will create favorable conditions for investors to come to research, survey and set up tourism investment projects; support investors with simple administrative procedures on site clearance, land use conversion; and remove difficulties for investors in implementing their projects.

Community tourism associated with preserving cultural identities

In addition to mobilizing maximum resources, stepping up promotion activities, completing the goal of building Hoa Binh Lake tourist area into a national tourist area, the province also strengthens propaganda to mobilize people and community in preserving traditional customs and practices, protecting environmental resources and supporting people to participate in tourism business activities, especially community tourism activities to contribute to tourism development and preservation of national cultural identity.

Women sell brocade products in Lac village, Mai Chau. Photo: Thu Hoai Christie.

Hoa Binh authorities advocate developing tourism in the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area in association with ensuring jobs, livelihoods and increasing incomes for local people, preserving the traditional cultural identity of ethnic minorities. Accordingly, the province will focus on attracting investment for tourism development and allocating capital to build infrastructure for localities in the tourism development space in Cao Phong, Da Bac, Tan Lac, Mai Chau and Hoa Binh City to soon turn this place into a key tourist area of ​​the province and a national tourist area in the near future.

The development of Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area has helped a large number of people living around the lakebed area to change jobs, reduce dependence on pure agricultural and forestry activities. Diversification of tourism types associated with the lake's potential, especially community-based tourism, has directly contributed to raising people's incomes. At the same time, it also helps people see the meaning of linking tourism development with environmental protection, preserving and promoting traditional cultural identities, thereby creating more motivation for localities in the process of building new countryside.

The communes in the tourism development space of the lake area are the home to many ethnic minorities such as Muong, Dao, Thai, where unique cultural values ​​and traditional crafts are still preserved and developed such as weaving, brocade, embroidery, indigo dyeing, beeswax painting, blacksmithing... In addition, the typical cuisine of the indigenous people here creates a distinct feature with products such as rice wine, corn wine, bananas wine, black chickens, native pigs, bamboo shoots, honey, fruits of four seasons...

Based on available conditions, the province will promote the development of eco-tourism, community-based tourism to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. In Thung Nai, Binh Thanh (Cao Phong district), Tien Phong, Cao Son (Da Bac district), many households have learned how to develop tourism at home effectively.

According to plan, by 2025, the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area will achieve the criteria of the National Tourist Area. By 2030, tourism will become a spearhead economic sector of Hoa Binh, an attractive destination in the Northwest region, attracting more and more domestic and international tourists. Hoa Binh hopes that investors will continue to cooperate with local businesses to exploit the potential of localities in the Hoa Binh Lake Tourist Area to develop tourism.

The traditional cultural identity of ethnic minorities is a tourism resource with strong attraction, a driving force to attract domestic and international tourists. For Hoa Binh, cultural and natural heritage is an important factor to build community tourism products. Localities exploit the heritage to develop tourism economy in addition to the elements of infrastructure, specialized technical facilities and human resources. Traditional culture is also an active support tool in positioning the image and building the tourism brand of Hoa Binh province in the coming time.

Quynh Nga