Mathieu – Tour operator in Vietnam
“The main idea behind all of our products is to allow visitors to experience something real, immersive and authentic, far away from mass tourism and helping local families.”
Highlighting one of our trusted suppliers this month, Khiri Vietnam would love to introduce Mathieu Forgeois, founder of Immersion Travel in Danang. I sat down with Mathieu and asked him a few questions about how he started Immersion as well as what drives him to focus on community-based, immersive experiences.
Can you tell a little about yourself, how you got into the travel industry, and where the idea of Immersion Travel came from?
During my time at university, I was able to take an internship in Malaysia for 6 months. I fell in love with South East Asia! After graduating in France, I moved to Hanoi in 2011 and worked for a small travel company there. The owner offered to let me stay at his family home, sharing a room with his son. While working at the travel company I also completed a five month Vietnamese language course.
I lived with this family for a year and worked at the company for three. It was a fully immersive introduction to life in Vietnam, allowing me to understand the people and their culture, I can also speak Vietnamese now!
After almost seven years working for larger companies, predominantly in the Product Department, I moved to Danang and felt it was time to start my own company, using the experience I had to create new experiences in a saturated part of the country.
We love all your products, what made you start with the Lang Co project and what were some of the difficulties you faced when setting it up?
The main idea behind all of our products is to allow visitors to experience something real, immersive and authentic, far away from mass tourism and helping local families where possible. After doing a number of inspections around Danang and Hoi An, I found so many beautiful places with potential to work in. This is the main reason I wanted to create these tours. So much potential for travellers as well as potential for the locals.
I first started with the Lang co project because of the beauty of the environment. It is a lagoon between mountain and sea, overlooked by the Annamite Cordillera covered by jungle. The landscape is amazing and the lagoon is dotted with small fishermen’s huts. There wasn’t any tourist products about the life of the people living here. That is the reason why I found a fisherman’s family and convinced them that we could build a nice immersion tour together.
I guess the biggest difficulty in setting this up was that these families had had no interaction with tourists before, no understanding of what was expected. I spent a lot of time with this family to train them, how to cook for foreign tourists, how we do the visit, how to welcome them, how to be professional in terms of services, hospitality, cleanliness and timing.
You know have a number of exciting experiences, what’s next for Immersion Travel?
My next project is to develop an immersion in Cham Island. Indeed, most of the tours at the moment happen in crowded areas and visitors are not well satisfied in terms of services. There is big potential because the island is beautiful, they ban plastic use, have a protected area with many fish and corals. I would like to allow guests to have an immersion far away from mass tourism with a new fisherman’s families. Go by local boat for swimming in empty small beaches and snorkeling to observe coral in places with no tourists. Have a nice walk to enjoy sunset at the summit of the island and even spend a night at a local’s house with fresh seafood dinner.