Y Pin Bing of Ako Dhong village in Buon Ma Thuot city is cleaning utensils and straw wine (ruou can) sets in preparation for a spring cultural program. He will serve visitors his home-made wine while they are watching gong performances and traditional dances and hearing stories about the E De culture. In recent years, Y Pin Bing has hosted a great number of tourists from inside and outside Vietnam. While many other E De families only produce straw wine, brocade, and coffee, Y Pin Bing has also connected with gong performers and dance troupes to deliver a comprehensive experience of the local culture. Y Pin Bing plans to expand his community-based tourism model to include homestays and hands-on coffee farming experience. He said he hopes the global COVID-19 pandemic will soon end and economic activities will revive.
|An E De cultural program is held at Y Pin Bing's house.
“We are looking forward to more incentives to develop our community-based tourism model, which is not effective if done by a single household or village. We hope culture and security authorities will join us,” according to Y Pin Bing.
Ako Dhong village, where E De cultural and architectural elements are well preserved, was chosen by Dak Lak authorities in 2019 to run a community-based tourism program. 30% of the 3,000 villagers earn their living by weaving brocade, producing straw wine, making handicraft products, and hosting traditional singing and dancing sessions.
Last year, they were sent to training courses to study community-based tourism. They were taught how to communicate with visitors, market their products, organize art activities, cook, and protect the environment.
H Tit Alio of Ako Dhong village told us, “In our village, we are preserving the stilt houses, bamboo poles, gongs, wine sets, brocade weaving, and epics. After the training courses, we have acquired the necessary knowledge to promote our culture. We are fully aware of how precious it is and want to spread the word to our fellow villagers.”
|Dak Lak residents attend a training course on community-based tourism.
E De food and musical instruments are being featured at other eco-tourism sites in Buon Ma Thuot city.
Pham Hai Binh, Deputy Director of the city’s Center for Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said, “Ethnic cuisine and gong performances are our specialties. Gong performances are part of communal activities and entertaining tourists coming to this place.”
According to Nguyen Thuy Phuong Hieu, Deputy Director of the Dak Lak provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the Department has adopted a resolution on developing community-based tourism integrated with new rural development and a support program for ethnic people. They designed community tours after their field trips to Buon Don and Cu Mgar district and Buon Ma Thuot city.
Hieu said, “We give Ako Dhong priority in community-based tourism development, which is hard to do, so it must be a joint effort by state agencies and local people. The model will be a success if the people are ready for it and state agencies and businesses are ready to support them.”