Social Justice, Vietnam
The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on ethnic minorities working in tourism - The case of H’Mong and Dao people in Sa Pa
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In 2020, the Covid-19 epidemic greatly affects economic sectors in general and especially the service sector, including the tourism industry in particular. Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia has ordered Center for Research, Training and Consultancy for Local development-STG to conduct research on: “Impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on ethnic minorities working in tourism - The case of H ' Mong and Dao people in Sa Pa”. The research is mainly qualitative and focuses on two ethnic minority communes where many households participate in homestay business and other addition services to homestay in the two communes of Ta Phin and Muong Hoa. More than 200 households in the two above-mentioned communes, tourism service companies and representatives of governmental agencies related to the tourism industry of Sa Pa town were selected to survey. The results of the study show that the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic has made most of the homestay business households completely lost their income. Other households participating in this value chain and providing addition services to homestay are also affected such as local tour guide, motorbike taxi, hand-made souvenir retailing… To cope with the negative impacts of Covid-19, most of the households who are ethnic minorities have adjusted their livelihood strategies and temporarily reverted to agricultural production as before. This is the strength and internal resources of the ethnic minorities to respond and adapt to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic. The study also surveyed a group of Kinh people participating in this homestay business. They are mostly investors from outside the community and use borrowed funds (bank loans) to do business. Therefore, when the Covid-19 took place, they were more severely affected than the ethnic minority households. They suffered double losses, including loss of income and the burden of paying off loan maturity (debt). The study also conducts a quick review on the support provided by national and local government to tourism businesses. Research results show that the supports are very timely, but the procedure for receiving these supports is not easy because the criteria for receiving those supports are quite rigid. In addition, many ethnic minority households operate in tourism spontaneously and do not register their business or pay tax, thus they do not meet this criterion for support.
In general, to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic, the study recommends the following solutions: (i) It is necessary to have tourism promotion programs through communication events, discounts on service packages, reducing or temporarily suspending entrance fees to tourism landscapes (ii) While tourism businesses are still interrupted, it is also important to organize capacity building training programs for tourism households to further improve services; (iii) Supporting households in transforming business models towards serving domestic tourists; (iv) Studying and redesigning tourism service models toward cultural experience; combining homestay with farmstay to diversify tourism products; (v) Since many households doing business in tourism are returning to agriculture production, there should be activities to promote trading and selling agricultural products as well as to seek and expand markets for those products.
Author: Trieu Thanh Quang, Nguyen Duc Vinh and Nguyen Thi Loi
Download: The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on ethnic minorities working in tourism - The case of H’Mong and Dao people in Sa Pa (En)