Born in Ben Tre Province in 1983, Director of the C2T Media and Tourism Company Vo Van Phong has utilised his homeland’s indigenous natural advantages to find a different way to design tours for visitors to the locality.
Director of the C2T Media and Tourism Company Vo Van Phong (middle) presents his customers with a flower bouquet made from coconut leaves
In Chau Thanh District, Phong’s company provides visitors with tours to rambutan gardens. He has co-ordinated with the gardens’ owners to grow fresh rambutans at a stable and reasonable price. He also advised the gardens’ owners to redecorate their gardens and to set up resting places for visitors so that they can enjoy a leisurely and joyful time there.
In the coastal areas, he designs tours to mangrove forests, where holiday-makers can experience walking on cool mudflats beneath vegetation, catching mudskippers and cooking salt-grilled fish. They can also learn how to set up crab traps and enjoy fresh and juicy boiled crabs. During the tour, visitors are briefed on climate change and sea level rise and participate in planting trees to protect the land around mangroves.
Travellers to Ben Tre city are invited to join ‘The city under Coconut Palm’ tour, which is a waterway trip along the rivers of the city, with long lines of green coconuts trees on both sides of the water. Visitors can taste fresh coconut water and delicious dishes made from coconut and can try their hands at making coconut candy.
When it gets darker, the tourists learn how to make a torch made from leaves, which was a practice of the locals before electricity came to the province. On their way back to the city, visitors can admire fireflies in the evening sky.
There is also a tour to the coconut market on Thom River, Mo Cay Bac District. Visiting the market, tourists can witness the bustle scene of dozens of boats carrying coconuts across the river, while people on boats uncover coconut shell.
Notably, the tours’ developer has connected with local families to invite foreign visitors to attend their traditional engagement and wedding ceremonies so that the foreigners can have a closer and deeper understanding of the cultural practice and life of Vietnamese people in the Mekong delta region.
Luring visitors to Ben Tre
Working for Phong’s company, tour guides are requested to push cultural and natural heritage and at the same time to impress on the guests the importance of the place they're visiting. The tour guides not only provide visitors with information but also work as a photographer and video recorder for their guests. Soon after the tour concludes, visitors can find their photos and videos in their email or personal Facebook page.
According to Phong, photographing and filming can help to promote the land and people of Ben Tre to tourists and their friends and families, thus luring more visitors to the province.
His company’s Facebook page also updates visitors with new tours, detailed descriptions and prices of the tours as well as the weather in Ben Tre.
Promoting local cuisine is an indispensable part of tours designed by Phong’s company. Vacationers can taste local signature dishes, including boiled banana with cassava paste, ‘banh xeo’ (Vietnamese pancake), and various sweet traditional cakes.
The company’s welcoming gifts for visitors are also unique products, including honeycomb slippers and a flower bouquet made from coconut leaves.
During his spare time, Phong rides his bike to rural areas in the province to explore more about his homeland’s cultural heritage, history, and traditional crafts in order to design new, unique, and exciting tours for his customers.
Thanks to Phong’s creative approach, his company receives much appreciation from visitors, serving 500 to 800 customers every month.
Not only entertaining visitors, C2T company has also benefited and created income for many local people, including boat rowers, ‘xe om’ bikers, and bicycle hiring service providers.
Phong’s start-up project won the first prize at the fourth agricultural start-up contest held by Ho Chi Minh City Business Studies and Assistance Centre (BSA) in 2018. Nhan Dan
Gỏi củ hũ dừa (coconut core) salad is a specialty of Ben Tre, the home of coconuts in Vietnam.
The fifth Coconut Festival will be held on November 14-20 in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, offering a diverse range of cultural, sport and tourism activities.