A British couple living in Vietnam has recently begun running motorbike tours accessible to disabled people in Ho Chi Minh City.
British expat Andy Gowler and his wife of Vietnamese origin Ly Cam Tu, co-founders of the Saigon Buddy Tour, said that they started offering the special tours in order to give disabled foreigners visiting or living in Vietnam the opportunity to enjoy motorbike tours, which they considered an attraction of Ho Chi Minh City.
“Even if we would only run one or two tours a year, we’re not doing it for the money,” Gowler told Tuoi Tre News, admitting that it is difficult to find these sorts of customers in Vietnam.
“When thinking of Vietnam, it’s not a place usually associated with being suitable for those with disabilities to travel, but hopefully with more services like this, people with disabilities will be more open to coming to Vietnam,” Ly added.
According to the couple, disabled people in England are free to do anything able-bodied people do, including adventure games, so they would like to see this scene develop in Vietnam.
In preparation, Saigon Buddy Tour has partnered with the Center of Disability Research and Capacity Development Vietnam (DRD), a non-profit organization working on supporting disabled people in Vietnam, attending training courses on the awareness and skills required to work with disabled people.
Staff of Saigon Buddy Tour attend a training course on disabled people hosted by DRD acting director Luu Thi Anh Loan (C) on May 28, 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dong Nguyen/Tuoi Tre News
The tour operator has also joined DRD’s 1 for Change program by donating US$1 for every customer, with Gowler also committing to donate all proceeds from the accessible tours to the non-profit organization.
DRD acting director Luu Thi Anh Loan said she appreciated the idea of bringing motorbike tours to people with disabilities and expressed DRD’s willingness to support with technical expertise.
“I also hope that via the tour, we can mobilize local businesses to become aware that people with disabilities are also potential customers,” Loan said.
“We also hope to create jobs for members of the disabled community. For example, when they want to be a driver of the tour using their adapted motorbikes,” she added. “The money we receive from Saigon Buddy Tour will be put toward payment for them.”
A staff member from DRD shows Saigon Buddy Tour members how to lift a disabled person up stairs. Photo: Dong Nguyen/Tuoi Tre News