Quang Binh has always been a land with harsh characteristics. In terms of topography, Quang Binh is strongly dissected as more than 85% of the terrain is mountainous, typically the area of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park with a system of limestone mountains and caves, accompanied by a huge coverage of evergreen tropical forest. In terms of weather, this place is divided into rainy season and dry season, famous for the dry season is the severe drought, the rainy season is the high water level, flooding happens every year.
In such harsh conditions, people in Quang Binh, especially people in mountainous areas like Phong Nha, do not have many options to make ends meet. At dinner time in the forest at night, Ms. Phuong, a guide from Phong Nha, shared with us that before tourism developed in Phong Nha, young people in this area mostly tried to go abroad for labour jobs. Those who stayed, sought to return to the mountains and forests, clinging to the mountains and forests to live. They are the who we call “forest bandits”, “hunters”, the people who ” make a living off the mountains and forests” – the bad guys in the stories people tell their kids about.
But no one knows that, behind the “bad guys” in that story, are honest people struggling for the bare minimum
However, people’s lives started changing when tourism began to develop. Dubbed the Cave Kingdom of Vietnam, Quang Binh has huge potential in natural resources, which are convenient for tourism development, especially adventure tourism, caving experience tourism, … is very popular with both domestic and international tourists. The local regional economy began to grow stronger, the facilities and people’s living standards also improved significantly.
The best thing is that now the indigenous people have got stable jobs from tourism. In addition to the business of accommodation, restaurants, and selling souvenirs to tourists, those who used to make a living simply from illegal logging and hunting can now use their forest experience. themselves become professional guides, Porter (luggage carrier), guiding tourists in the forest they have long been familiar with.
When asked about his job before joining Jungle Boss, Uncle Son, Porter of the group, simply replied: ‘I was a forest thief’. Indeed, he made the wrong choice, but now, when there is a person familiar with the forest road and in good shape like him accompanying the group, he has become a reliable support for tourists in the jungle. Through tourism development, Uncle Son and his brothers were given the choice of changing careers for good and return to a more stable and genuine business.
Tourism is more than a mere economic sector.