Aus4Equality|GREAT Program – Call for proposals for Tourism Services, Inclusive Destination Planning News

19 October, 2021


Cowater International is seeking proposals from qualified tourism service organisations to support GREAT’s inclusive and gender-responsive tourism activities for the November 2021-March 2022 period.


With more than 35 years of experience, Cowater International is Canada’s global leader in management consulting services specialising in international development. We have managed the implementation of over 2500 projects in more than 95 countries around the globe for clients such as DFID, DFAT Australia, the European Union, the World Bank and Global Affairs Canada. We work with governments, partner organisations, communities and civil society to design and implement sustainable solutions that generate lasting social, economic and environmental impacts. Our adaptive approach to management has led to our award-winning work and recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies from 2017 to 2021.

The Aus4Equality|Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program is a flagship initiative of the Australian aid program in Vietnam – it commenced in November 2017 and the current phase will run for five years to June 2022. The Program is promoting women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in the ethnically diverse north-west region of Vietnam. The primary beneficiaries are women living in the provinces of Son La and Lao Cai with an overarching emphasis placed on the inclusion of women from ethnic minority communities.

The objectives of the Aus4Equality|GREAT Program are:

  • Objective 1 – Empowering local women: Women living in local communities have increased capacity, space and choices to beneficially engage with agriculture and tourism businesses.
  • Objective 2 – Inclusive businesses partnerships: Selected private sector actors within the agriculture and tourism sectors innovate to profitably and sustainably trade with more women entrepreneurs and operate in gender sensitive ways.
  • Objective 3 – Improving sector governance and policy: Government agencies reinforce policies, and enact plans, regulations and services that enable more inclusive socio-economic development.

The Program is partnering with approximately 50 organisations to deliver results, including private sector actors, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and research institutions. GREAT currently has a portfolio of seven tourism investments spanning community-based tourism, policy, training and destination development.  Additionally, there are three other investments in handicrafts and medicinal herbs which have a strong crossover with the tourism industry.

Tourism has an important role to play in North-West Vietnam as it generates income generating opportunities and jobs, particularly for women and youth.  Being labour intensive, it has relatively low barriers of entry for service-level jobs as well as micro and small businesses that service the sector.

Tourism development, done responsibly, can help maintain areas of high environmental value and protect local culture by helping local governments and communities understand the economic benefits tourism can bring if natural attractions and local culture are preserved.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of the middle class in Vietnam and neighbouring China underpinned the tourism industry in Lao Cai and Son La. Western tourists were also an important part of the market as they are more likely to visit remote areas. In addition, improved road access and local services were also major contributors to growth in the sector. These factors are signs that there is a real opportunity to develop tourism in Lao Cai and Son La that brings benefits to women, particularly from ethnic minorities and those living in more remote areas of these provinces.

During Program implementation, specific gender issues and constraints have been identified that limit ethnic minority women’s aspirations and ability to engage and benefit from the tourism sector.  For example, in some communities, tourism is not seen as a suitable career path for ethnic minority women due to negative perceptions of the hospitality sector.  There is also a reluctance of some ethnic minority women, potentially based on their husband’s wishes, to interact with tourists.[1]

GREAT’s Longitudinal Study Midline Report identified ethnic minority women’s levels of Kinh literacy limited their roles and participation in tourism.[2]  Improved financial and digital literacy are also needed to enhance women’s ability to engage in these sectors.

About the Opportunity

Cowater International is seeking proposals from qualified tourism service organisations to support GREAT’s inclusive and gender-responsive tourism activities for the November 2021-March 2022 period that will also help build the foundation for a potential second phase of the Program.

A key focus is addressing the specific constraints of ethnic minority women by building a sustainable, inclusive and gender-responsive tourism sector in Son La and Lao Cai.

The assignment has four components:

Component 1: Inclusive and Gender Responsive Tourism Planning and Policy Son La Province

Component 2: Smart Destination Management Improvement of Moc Chau District, Son La Province

Component 3: Bat Xat Inclusive and Gender Responsive Tourism Planning

Component 4: Inclusive and Gender Responsive Tourism Planning – Lao Cai Province


This opportunity is open to local or international businesses or organisations. If international organisations wish to apply, it is mandatory that it is in partnership with a local organisation.  Local organisations will need to include an international tourism expert (remote or Vietnam-based), preferably with experience working in the target provinces. Please note that it will not be possible for international experts to enter Vietnam to conduct the assignment due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Organisations need to have:

  • Appropriate registration;
  • A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience in tourism. or related fields; and
  • Evidence of three tourism contracts of a similar scale undertaken over the past five years.

Team Composition

A project manager needs to be nominated that oversees both the technical and financial management of the assignment and is the key focal point to liaise with both GREAT and partners.   This person should ideally be the Senior National Tourism expert.

List of key technical experts:

  • Senior national tourism expert (12+ years experience)
  • Senior national tourism policy/planning expert (12+ years experience)
  • Senior national gender expert (12+ years experience)
  • International tourism expert (12+ years experience)
  • National Tourism and IT Expert (7+ years experience)

The mandatory key expert positions are detailed in Annex 1: Roles, Key Experts, Deliverables and Milestones.  Experts can work across multiple components, however they will need to have sufficient time to undertake the proposed tasks to meet key milestones as scheduled.

All experts must have:

  • High level English language communication and report writing skills;
  • Relevant tertiary qualifications;
  • Excellent coordination and facilitation skills; and
  • And preferably an understanding of women’s economic empowerment and experience working with ethnic minority communities in Vietnam (preferred).

How to Apply

Proposals need to be sent to before 5pm Hanoi time on 4 November 2021 with the subject line “Tourism Services – Inclusive Destination Planning”.  Late applications will be not considered.

The proposal needs to include:

i) A commitment letter signed by the authorised representative of the Applicant organisation/business, confirming the Applicant’s intention to provide the services in accordance with the provisions of this TOR;

ii) A copy of business/organisation registration of the Applicant;

iii) The business or organisation’s experience relevant to the assignment (maximum four pages), substantiated with copies of similar contract references undertaken in the past 5 years;

iv) Proposed methodology including at least by not limited to the following information:

  • Implementation approach;
  • A skills matrix that identifies the skills required and the personnel that are being proposed;
  • Tentative timetable of activities; and
  • The institutional arrangements.

v) The proposed team member/s per component including CVs and statement of availability by each team member and daily rate (AUD); and

vi) Proposed management fee.

A one-hour information session will be organised at 9am Hanoi Tuesday 26 October 2021. To register for this session, please contact, with the subject line “Tourism Services – Briefing Session”, in the subject line.

The successful applicant will need to sign a contract that is compliant with Cowater International’s Head Contract with the Australian Government including the full copywrite ownership of all deliverables from this assignment.

To download the full copy of the Terms of Reference, click here.

[1] Reported at GREAT Reflect and Refocus Workshop, January 2021.

[2] “Aus4Equality/GREAT Longitudinal Study Midline Report, December 2020, p.13.

Related Content

Interested in shaping the future with Cowater International?
Learn More