VietNamNet Bridge – Responsible tourism, especially environmental tourism, has been springing up in recent years. However, travel firms have complained they are meeting too many barriers to develop the new type of tourism.


Vietravel is thought to be the pioneer in developing environmental tourism, designing a lot of “clean tours” over the last many years. However, only when it launched the environment responsible program in many localities nationwide with the support of culture management agencies, the Youth Union and schools, could the firm’s tours catch the strong attention from the public.

With a simple slogan “Khong xa rac” (don’t drop litter), it took Vietravel many years to run a media campaign in an effective way. The travel firm has been patient enough to convince people and volunteers at the destination points to join the campaigns. It also took the firm much time to work out with local authorities and organizations to obtain their support to the program.

Since it is a time and money consuming job, it’s understandable that not many travel firms have thought of developing environment responsible tours. Not all the existing travel firms are financially capable enough to make investment in a program from which they are not sure about the profits.

The director of a travel firm in Hanoi said that though the activities relating to the environment protection have been integrated into the firm’s tours, he still doesn’t think of developing separated environmental tours with the current conditions.

Saigontourist has been trying to familiarize clients with environment tourism with the tour “moi du khach mot cay xanh cho Da Lat” (one person grows one tree for Da Lat). Meanwhile, Goldentour has designed the tours, under which travelers can attend green festivals at the destination points.

A lot of reasons have been cited to explain why travel firms still dare not spend money on “clean tourism.” The director said a lot of travelers don’t feel elated with environment tours, or ask to remove the environment activities integrated into the tours.

In principle, travel firms alone cannot decide whether to provide environmental tours. They need to get the nod from local authorities to be able to organize the activities in the localities. Meanwhile, the local management agencies at the destination points keep unready to help.

Responsible tourism is just an option, not a compulsory duty. Therefore, the quality of the tours much depends on the local authorities’ enthusiasm. In some localities, paper bags are delivered to tourists instead of plastics. Meanwhile, in other cities, there are not enough garbage cans for travelers.

“There is no specific accommodation system for this type of tourism. And we cannot ask travelers to respond our clean tourism programs, if they don’t feel convenient,” the director said.

However, he admitted that big travel firms would find it easier to design and implement environment tours, because they have closed supply chains and they can call for the cooperation from loyal partners.

The director of another travel firm wishes that the state sets up a regulation stipulating that tourism centers must satisfy the criteria in terms of environment protection. For example, they must provide enough garbage cans, standard toilets and energy saving works.

“If local authorities set up reasonable mechanisms to support travel firms, will responsible tourism develop strongly and effectively?” he said.

To Quoc