Developing green and sustainable tourism in Can Tho
Update: Dec 22, 2023
Green and sustainable tourism is identified as a crucial strategy in our country's tourism development direction. Particularly in Can Tho, many tourism enterprises are focusing and investing in the development of green and sustainable tourism.

Products like soap, floor cleaners, and dishwashing liquids are made from organic waste at the Mekong Silt Ecolodge.

Engaging in mindful tourism

After over six months of experimentation and operation, the journey of transforming waste into tourism products at the Mekong Silt Ecolodge (in Phong Dien district) has become an intriguing story for numerous tourists. Here, waste is reused to create valuable products. Ms. Huynh Thi Bich Tuyen, the owner of Mekong Silt Ecolodge, states, “We practice tourism coupled with green economics, focusing on building a comprehensive recycling model based on local resources. The waste narrative is also explored in this direction, with the core objective being to enhance the value of indigenous resources while minimizing environmental impact, providing diverse experiences for tourists, and contributing to spreading the message of health and environmental protection”. Accordingly, tourists can experience workshops on making soap, dishwashing, and floor-cleaning liquids, or creating organic fertilizers and insecticides from organic waste while enjoying a “sustainable meal”.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Doan, a staff member at Mekong Silt Ecolodge, shares, “Mekong Silt Ecolodge has four strategies for sustainable tourism: refusing imported materials, using local resources, recycling, and responsible disposal”. To limit waste (especially plastic waste), right from the start, all employees at Mekong Silt Ecolodge are trained to use environmentally friendly materials, employing large reusable baskets when shopping.

This cultivates environmental awareness among employees and helps disseminate this mindset to surrounding communities. Waste is sorted here, and different methods are applied based on whether the waste is organic or inorganic.

For organic waste, various sorting mechanisms and recycling processes produce items like soap, dishwashing and floor-cleaning liquids, organic fertilizers, and biological insecticides. Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Doan further explains the concept of “sustainable meals”, which involves maximizing the utilization of ingredients. These meals are designed according to standards: appetizers, main courses, desserts... ensuring cohesion and minimizing leftover ingredients. For instance, leftover lemongrass or carrots from previous dishes might be used to create dipping sauces or gravies for subsequent courses. Additionally, excess cooking oil is utilized to make soap, dishwashing, and floor-cleaning liquids. Waste from fruit peels is repurposed as fertilizer or fish feed for chickens raised on nearby farms. These 'Happy Chickens' are given a natural living environment and fed natural food. Alongside the forest garden (a natural vegetable garden model), they contribute to the lodge's self-sufficiency, providing nutritious meals for guests.

Conversely, with inorganic waste, Mekong Silt Ecolodge tends to reuse by organizing competitions among staff to creatively repurpose commonly discarded materials, such as street lamps made from wine bottle casings or recycled flowerpots. All these products are exhibited and reused appropriately and innovatively within the resort premises. Ms. Huynh Thi Bich Tuyen, the owner of Mekong Silt Ecolodge, says, “The implementation process faced numerous challenges. We invited sustainable tourism experts to train, experiment, and rigorously evaluate each stage. To date, both our employees at Mekong Silt Ecolodge and the visiting tourists have heightened awareness of environmental responsibility. We have survey forms recording the emotions of tourists experiencing these activities, with the majority expressing satisfaction and pride in contributing to nature. I feel confident and happy about what we are doing because practicing mindful and responsible tourism is what creates sustainable value and spreads this ethos”.

Building a Brand Through Sustainable Quality

In Can Tho City, many tourism businesses are operating according to sustainable principles, among which Victoria Can Tho is known as one of the pioneering companies for many years. Not only has it won awards for Energy Efficient Building and ASEAN Green Label (ASEAN Green Hotel Standards of the ASEAN Community), recently Victoria Can Tho also achieved Gold Certification for Sustainable Tourism from Travelife (Travelife is an international sustainable certification program in the tourism sector managed by ABTA - The UK Travel Association and ANVR - The Association of Travel Agents of the Netherlands). Travelife uses a comprehensive set of requirements recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), based on common standards for sustainable tourism set by GSTC. Ms. Vo Xuan Thu, Director of Victoria Can Tho, said: "Victoria is the first hotel chain in Vietnam to be awarded the Travelife Gold Certification. We had to comply with 140 criteria to be recognized, including important requirements on environment, human rights, community support, respect for local cultural values and heritage, and sustainable business development…".

In practice, over many years Victoria Can Tho has been a famous green destination in Can Tho and highly appreciated by tourists for its service quality and diverse experiences. Here, services and experiences always aim for safety, health, and green living values with responsibility for the environment and local communities. In addition to limiting plastic waste and using environmentally friendly materials, Victoria Can Tho is also actively organizing and participating in environmental activities such as river and canal trash collection on World Environment Day (5-6 June), Vietnam Tourism Day (9 July), or electricity saving by turning off lights on Earth Day (22 April)... One of the highlights of Victoria Can Tho appreciated by tourists is its active enhancement of local experiences for visitors. In addition to accommodation services, tourists can learn about and explore through tours with strong local flavors such as visiting Cai Rang floating market, Son Islet, Yen Hamlet... Here, Victoria Can Tho encourages tourists to use bicycles or means of transportation that have minimal environmental impact. When coming to Victoria Can Tho in the evening (from 5-8 pm) daily, tourists can always learn about and watch demonstrations of making leaf hats, and weaving palm leaves... as a way to preserve and introduce local culture to tourists. Depending on suitable times, Victoria Can Tho has many meaningful workshops such as Wellness Weekend Yoga "Live happily - Live healthily", Plant more trees, Cooking Class... for tourists to experience health training and environmental protection…

The 2023 Sustainable Tourism Report from shows that globally around 80% of survey respondents affirmed that "sustainable tourism is becoming increasingly important to them". Specifically, 97% of Vietnamese tourists who participated in the survey said they wanted to travel more sustainably in the next 12 months. Despite economic difficulties, as much as 75% of Vietnamese tourists said they are willing to pay more for certified sustainable tourism options as a way to ensure they are positively impacted. 83% of Vietnamese tourists expressed a desire to help make the places they visit greener and cleaner after leaving. 79% of Vietnamese tourists said they feel more comfortable staying at an accommodation with a sustainability certification or badge.

Therefore, more and more tourists are aware of tourism's impacts on the environment, and local communities and choose responsible tourism. Green criteria are increasingly valued in destination and tourism product selection by the market. Because developing green tourism not only plays an important role in environmental protection and resource conservation but also brings new values to tourism products, contributing to improved economic efficiency, destination brand positioning; and sustainable long-term exploitation.

In Can Tho, destinations that meet green tourism criteria currently include: Victoria Can Tho, Can Tho Ecolodge... Ms. Huynh Thi Bich Tuyen, owner of Mekong Silt Ecolodge, shared: "We are strictly implementing ASEAN standards with the goal of obtaining the Green Label. This will help create a better destination brand". Ms. Vo Xuan Thu, Director of Victoria Can Tho, said: "The Travelife certification is valid for 2 years, we must continue to maintain the standards achieved and pay more attention to development because the re-evaluation will be more difficult. When certified for sustainability, the destination can gain competitive advantages, so we also want to promote this sustainable tourism model and contribute to promoting tourism development in Can Tho”.

Translated by Hoang Dat

CTP - - December 21, 2023