The Hin Nam No National Protected Area (NPA) provides good potential for tourism. Tourists mainly come to Hin Nam No for nature trekking, visits to the historical Ho Chi Minh trail and the big cave in the Xe Bang Fai river. But for turning this potential into reality, a ticketing system is needed as a basis for fair sharing of tourism revenues among stakeholders. Therefore, a district workshop was held in mid-October which aimed mainly at Government agencies and village tourism groups to agree on such a ticketing system.
Village representatives, province and district officials as well as staff from the GIZ project Integrated Nature Conservation & Sustainable Resource Management in Hin Nam No used the workshop to agree on village group service fees, the price of tickets and the establishment of a Village Development Fund.
Village groups are now allowed to raise set fees for various services such as homestays, tour guides or boat services. The revenues stay with the service groups. Tourists are now asked to pay 30,000 LAK for a ticket to enter the Hin Nam No NPA for maximum four days. The benefits are to be shared between different district authorities and the Village Development Fund which will receive 30% of the revenues. The fund will be used for village development activities. 'It is very important to link tourism to conservation. As tourists will come to enjoy nature, we depend on good conservation for the continued success of tourism', said Mr Panya from Deputy Director of the Province Information, Culture and Tourism Office.
The ticketing system is a first step towards generating a sustainable funding system for the Hin Nam No NPA. 'This is a good system which will be supported by Bualapha District Government. It provides a clear mechanism for coordination between stakeholders. I hope that this system provides village groups with a good incentive to improve their services', stated Mr Thongsouk, Deputy Secretary of the Bualapha district.
Even though the revenues initially will be low as numbers of tourists are still small (485 in 2014), the system could reward a substantial income to villagers and the Hin Nam No NPA itself on the long run. It also sets a pattern of sharing benefits between villagers and the state which is a building block for sustainable co-management.