Promoting cultural values in tourism development

Friday, 20/01/2023 16:20
The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is a land which contains rich and unique cultural heritage resources with many customs, practices, brocade colors, architectural art, and folk cultural festivals of 47 ethnic groups. In particular, the traditional cultural resources of the indigenous peoples are strongly attractive for domestic and foreign tourists.
Co Ho Sre ethnic people in Lam Dong province during new rice festival. 

More than 25.7% of the population in Lam Dong province are ethnic minorities. Besides the advantages of natural landscape, mild climate, magnificent rivers and waterfalls, the province has rich and diverse indigenous cultural resources such as village landscapes and special architectural arts, crafts, costumes, cuisine, folk art, and traditional festivals. This is      potential for tourism development.

Indigenous cultural resources

We joined the stream of people attending the first Lang Biang Food and Wine Festival, organized by Lac Duong district. The burning stoves were at the foot of Lang Biang M     ountain. Visitors were captivated by the colors and flavors of the dishes from the mountain products, which were prepared in the traditional local cuisine style with the girls in brocade costumes of the local Co Ho people. Drinking traditional wine, Comrade Cil Poh, Vice Chairman of Lac Duong District People's Committee, a son of the indigenous Co Ho ethnic group, shared: “Many natural things can be lost, but what belongs to the root, like the cultural core, is permanent and the traditional cuisine of the Co Ho people is such a fundamental thing. Today we are fortunate to enjoy dishes that are only available on solemn occasions.”

And the idea of developing traditional culinary tourism in the legendary Lang Biang P     lateau, during the Lang Biang pink grass festival in November every year, Co Ho ethnic boys have the opportunity to show their talents and Co Ho ethnic girls show off their talents in brewing wine and preparing food.  When the night falls, the sacred fire burns, they join the gong rhythm and sing folk songs.

Lac Duong district currently has more than 10 groups performing gong music for tourism. It is on the red fire nights, folk dishes and traditional wine are prepared to invite visitors. According to analysis by cultural researcher Krajan Dick, culture and tourism have blended and honored each other in Lac Duong district. Local people have to learn and practice gong performances and folk songs in order to serve tourists, thus contributing to preserving traditional culture. Meanwhile, culture has given wings to tourism, helping people have a fresher life.

The fire burned dry, the wine was passionate, the legend of Lang Biang is still told by the village elder as a confession to tourists. Sitting next to me, Ms. Thu Ha, a tourist from the southern city of Can Tho said: “I have traveled quite a lot. But this is my first visit to this land. The culture of the Central Highlands has a strange attraction.” With about 70% of indigenous people, Lac Duong still preserves the unique cultural identity of Co Ho Cil and Lach ethnic people, which is a space of gong culture, festivals, traditional music, brocade weaving and traditional wine. In 2022, this land attracted more than 2.1 million visitors, bringing in more than 187 billion VND in revenue. “We are always interested in preserving and promoting the traditional cultural values of indigenous peoples associated with tourism development. Thereby, we want to introduce and promote the land, people and local culture,” said Mr. Cil Poh.

Tonight with an appointment, the Chu Ru village in Diom A, Don Duong district is busier than usual. In front of the traditional house yard, the gong beat is mixed with the trumpet – a traditional music instrument, the jubilant Pahganang folk dance. It seems to invite everyone to join in. In the flickering firelight, Master Artisan Ma Bio said: “For a long time, many groups of tourists wanted to experience the Chu Ru cultural region. They asked students of gong, folk song and dance classes to participate in. Thereby, the children have the opportunity to perform, have a sense of preserving the national culture and have more income."

Ms. Ma Bio is the person credited with restoring and reviving the Tamya (dance) of the Chu Ru people. She mastered the gongs, knew how to play the drums and the rokel. Thanks to her teaching, more than 150 of her students have learned to play many traditional instruments of the Chu Ru people, sing folk songs, and know the folk dances of Arya, T'rumpo, Pahganang, Damtra... “I hope many people know my own ethnic culture, said Ms. Ma Bio.

From the Lang Biang Plateau down to the Cat Tien sedimentary area by the Dong Nai R     iver, the locality is attracted by the K'Long brocade weaving village of the Co Ho Cil people in Duc Trong district, Co Ho Sre knitting village in Di Linh district, Ma village culture in Bao Loc city, Krang Go pottery village and the mystery of the Srí ring of Chu Ru people in Don Duong district. Visitors can be immersed in the festival space according to the rice cycle and traditional customs of ethnic groups.

Co Ho Sre ethnic people in Lam Dong province during new rice festival. (Source: NDO) 

Ms. Ka Dong from Darahoa chicken village, who has spent more than 10 years working  as a tour guide, had to study English by himself, study the legend of the village and the custom of challenging weddings of her ethnic group to tell foreign guests. Thanks to the charm of story telling, he has pulled tourists back to the village, so that brocades and souvenirs made by local  ethnic people have been b     ought by visitors.

Harmony between cultural preservation and tourism development

Most tourists visit Da Lat city in Lam Dong province, or decide to return to the land because of the attraction from the culture of the indigenous peoples here. Over the past time, Lam Dong province has effectively implemented the national target program on preserving typical cultural heritages. The province has opened 63 classes to teach gongs to more than 1,600 young people from the Central Highlands; recognized 17 intangible cultural heritages; organized 15 provincial gong cultural festivals; honored nearly 100 typical gong artisans; restored dozens of rituals and festivals; and recognized 33 traditional craft villages.    

Lam Dong Provincial People's Committee has also issued a plan to implement the project "Preserving and promoting the values of folk songs, folk dances and folk music of ethnic minorities in association with tourism development in the 2021-2030 period" in the province; together with the program on conservation and development of local craft villages, period 2022-2030./.

BTA (Translated according to NDO)