The hill tribe village of Ta Phin is located in the northern highlands of Vietnam. In the small, nearby town of Sapa the burgeoning tourism industry is playing a contentious role in the region’s development. Visitors from all over the world travel to the Sapa region for its inspiring landscapes, breathtaking scenery, world-class trekking and colourful ethnic minority cultures.
For the ethnic minority groups, such as the Red Dao of Ta Phin, tourism represents many things. It is the reason why so many people have been coming to their village for so many years. It is also a means to generate an income. Arguably, it is also the single biggest threat to their traditional way of life and it is apparent, that tourism is here to stay.
When the Villagers Left follows a group of Red Dao hill tribe women as they leave their remote village in Northern Vietnam to visit the city of Hanoi. These women have made a choice to learn about tourism and have invested into making their homes into homestays. Their actions are a demonstration of their empowerment as they take control of an industry that is largely run by international companies and the Vietnamese. The trip to Hanoi will be an opportunity to foster critical business relationships with those very companies who are bringing tourists to their village.
The fear of failure and the challenges of culture shock are real as this group of women take on many things for the very first time.