Conservationists have aired concerns over a plan to build a giant resort on the cool hilly mountains of Tam Dao in northern Vinh Phuc province, claiming the project would cause environmental damage.
Cool break: Tam Dao provides Hanoians with a welcome weekend respite from the summer heat
The provincial Trade and Tourism Department has listed the project on its website, calling for $200 million to build a complex with villas, garden houses, hotels, restaurants and entertainment facilities in an area where the French used to go for weekend retreats from Hanoi.
Vinh Phuc, eager to turn tourism into a spearhead sector for the local economy, plans to build the Tam Dao II Resort as one of the key tourism projects for the province. It has invited international planners to work out a development masterplan for the project and plans to attract foreign investment for the project.
The proposed site for the resort is 1,100-1,200 metres above sea level and a new 15-25-metre-wide and 15-kilometre-long road will be built to link the current Tam Dao I resort complex to the future resort.
A forest conservationist said the project should be carefully considered, suggesting that the area be developed into an ecological tourist system instead of a small city with villas and recreational facilities.
Other environmental experts have warned that the nation’s forest system will be affected if some 200 hectares were put aside for the construction of houses and villas.
“The planned resort is located in a place where forest density is the strongest in Tam Dao and the most special in Indochina,” said an expert.
However, a consultant, who is promoting foreign investment in the project, said investors know how to take care of the local environment. She said potential investors might not chop down trees to build the resort but instead dig trees up and plant them in the surrounding areas.
The consultant said it was a waste of resources if Tam Dao was left untouched since it was a singularly unique place near Hanoi that has a similar cool climate to Da Lat and Sapa.
She added that while southern provinces have advantages in developing seaside resorts, the northern region is strong in mountain retreats and Tam Dao was an ideal place for weekend holiday from Hanoi.
Tam Dao resort, 86 kilometres from Hanoi, is located 1,000 metres above sea level with average temperatures of between 20-22 degrees Celcius.
The French built more than 200 villas, hotels and restaurants in Tam Dao from 1904 on to create a retreat from Hanoi, but most of these properties have been destroyed. The current Tam Dao resort complex is small in contrast to its former heyday under French rule, and comprises only a handful of hotels, restaurants and deteriorating old houses.
Provincial authorities said the existing resort area is too small and difficult to expand as it is surrounded by mountains and there’s a need to build a larger one in other areas.
An 18-hole golf course and a cluster of villas is currently under construction at the foot of the Tam Dao mountains.