Sapa O’Chau – Vietnam’s First Minority-Owned Tour Operator

Sapa O’Chau – Vietnam’s First Minority-Owned Tour Operator

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Yesterday, 09 Aug, was UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. And on the occasion of this special day, Sapa O’Chau is delighted to announce that they have become Vietnam’s first minority-owned tour operator licensed by the Government.

Sapa O’Chau was founded by Shu Tan, a member of the H’mong tribe, who grew up in a poor farming village and sold embroidered handicrafts to tourists on the streets in Sapa rather than attend school. She only learned to read when she was 16.

In 2007, she informally launched Sapa O’Chau with the help of some Australian tourists. The idea was to provide a way for tourists to deal directly with the guides, rather than booking through the large tour companies, which often pay the local minority guides very little. Today Sapa O’Chau is a licensed international tour operator, committed to non-profit social enterprise, which provides jobs to 18 ethnic minority tour guides at a fair wage.

The profits from its trekking tours go directly to support 35 minority children with English and vocational classes, a dormitory so they can attend school in the town (their villages are often too far away to attend school), and scholarships for older students to continue their hospitality studies in other locations in Vietnam.

Sapa O’Chau’s accomplishments would certainly make a wonderful case study illustrating the positive impact of tourism on impoverished communities when organized and executed correctly.

For more information about the company, tour booking, volunteering, and supporting, please contact:

Shu Tan, Founder
[email protected]

Peter Gilbert, Associate Director
[email protected]


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