Balancing conservation, economic development in Hoi An
VietNamNet Bridge - Rapid tourism development has put pressure on local infrastructure and environment in the UNESCO-protected town of Hoi An.


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Vietnam beautiful landscapes attract foreign travelers



Nguyen Chi Trung, director of the Hoi An Cultural Heritage Conservation Center, said that concerns for Hoi An are not only the degradation of houses, but also changes in intangible cultural values. 

About 200 out of 1,069 old houses have been leased and used as retail premises. The old houses originally designed for functions such as worship, activities and relaxation are now used as shops. 

Tong Quoc Hung, deputy head of Hoi An Culture and Information Sub-department, said if the ancient town loses its soul, it would no longer be a heritage site. 

In the past, the town was quiet and peaceful. People got up very early. Now, residents stay up late at night to serve tourists and get up late the next morning. Neighbors’ relations are worsening.

In the past, the town was quiet and peaceful. People got up very early. Now, residents stay up late at night to serve tourists and get up late the next morning. Neighbors’ relations are worsening.

In some localities, modern concrete infrastructure has arisen to meet the increasingly high demand of tourists, spoiling the natural landscape. 

In other localities, people have changed their behavior and customs to suit the tastes of visitors. Culture professionals are shocked that gongs are used to perform modern Western music. 

The arguments between investors, who want to exploit natural resources to attract more tourists, and environmentalists and locals, who want to protect the culture and natural resources, are endless. 

Trieu Thi Tinh, deputy director of the Ha Giang tourism department, said many investors who visit Ha Giang to seek opportunities to develop tourism projects want to open 4-5 hotels. 

“If local authorities don’t have long term vision, they will lose the resources which are the attractive assets for tourism,” sad Pham Trung Luong, deputy head of the Institute for Tourism Development Research.

Sustainable tourism development

Documents released by the EU-ESRT (Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism) project showed that cultural tourism accounts for 37 percent of all tourist trips. 

These travelers like visiting historic sites and monuments, learning about native cultures, meeting local ethnic minority people, and immersing themselves in locals’ lives. They sightsee twice as much than other travelers, and stay 2.5 times longer and spend more money.

Tran Huu Son, a culture researcher, said local authorities should stop following a makeshift policy, and strive for sustainable tourism.

In 1999, UNESCO formally recognizes Hoi An as a World Heritage Site. The Hoi An ancient and peaceful town is home to many temples, pagodas and the ancient homes that bear its very unique mark.


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Kim Chi

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