Transforming Cao Phạ: A Case Study in Community Tourism

by ToBeAddToCMS

In early May, Mr. Nam Nguyen, Founder of the "Đồng Lòng" Fund, invited Collective Design Agency (CDA) to visit Bản Ít Thái, located in Cao Phạ, Mù Cang Chải, Yên Bái. The mission was clear: provide branding and product development advice to transform this village into an experiential tourism destination. Accompanied by experts in education, finance, tourism, and branding, our goal was to offer comprehensive perspectives and tailor-made solutions for the local community.

The Journey Begins

Guided by Local Experts

We embarked on a journey of over 500 kilometers, traversing the majestic Khau Phạ Pass, one of Vietnam's four great mountain passes. The breathtaking beauty and untapped tourism potential of Cao Phạ were immediately apparent, inspiring us with the possibilities ahead.

Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Dũng, a member of Khau Phạ Friend (KPF), an NGO dedicated to developing and guiding local tourism. Mr. Dũng led us on a tour of the area's tourism products and experiences, showcasing the rich cultural and natural assets of Cao Phạ. Following the tour, we held a meeting with KPF members and local business owners to discuss initial recommendations and strategies for enhancing the village's tourism appeal.

The Power of Clear Communication

In both local tourism and SMEs, one of the biggest hurdles is making the value proposition clear to outsiders. Residents of Cao Phạ are deeply familiar with their own models and products, often overlooking how foreign these might seem to visitors. This familiarity gap can be a significant deterrent, as potential customers are unlikely to engage with what they do not understand.

Revamping Signage and Accessibility

Fostering Community Connections

The village of Bản Ít Thái serves as a perfect example of how simple improvements can create a substantial impact: Upgrading Signage: There is a critical need to enhance the system of signs and informational aids. Tourists need clear directions to understand which homes offer which services and their locations. While homestays generally have signs, homes offering unique services like indigo dyeing and beeswax drawing do not. Additionally, there is a lack of signs directing visitors to popular spots for photography and relaxation. Support Information on Trekking Routes: Installing signs with support phone numbers along the village's trekking paths can demonstrate attentiveness and foster a positive experience for visitors.

Given its designation as a community tourism village, it is essential for each member of Bản Ít Thái’s ecosystem to have information that introduces others, creating a network of easily accessible services. Digital and Physical Maps: Developing a QR-code-scannable tourist map or a brief brochure can empower tourists to engage proactively with available services. Showcasing Local Products: Displaying and selling small quantities of specialty products in homestays, using beautifully decorated shelves, can enhance the visitor experience and encourage purchases.

Moving forward, addressing the mindset of the locals is paramount. Many residents of Bản Ít Thái, like numerous SMEs, are hesitant to embrace communication and branding tools. Overcoming these psychological barriers is crucial; it is ineffective to push them into media campaigns or brand-building without a comfortable mindset. Future initiatives will delve deeper into these aspects.

Transforming Cao Phạ into a premier tourist destination begins with simple yet profound changes in how information is presented and how community connections are built. These foundational steps can significantly enhance the visitor experience, ensuring that tourists fully appreciate and engage with the unique offerings of this beautiful locale.