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|There is more focus on creating specific coastal activities to further boost tourism in the region|
The central coast, consisting of 14 coastal cities and provinces from Thanh Hoa to Binh Thuan, accounts for 50 per cent of Vietnam’s cities and provinces with coastlines. Stretching nearly 1,900 kilometres, this expanse comprises 57 per cent of the country’s 3,260km of coastline. They range from the central city of Danang’s 70km stretch to Phu Yen which boasts 189km of waterfront.
The central region has many large seaports, such as Nghi Son, Dung Quat, Nha Trang, and Cam Ranh. There are also dozens of charming islands along the coast.
The tourism market in these areas is rapidly presenting a new and more vivid image. This is courtesy of a breakthrough in quality and quantity that in turn has spurred a further wave of investment in the luxury hospitality and tourism property sectors.
The region’s long and white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and wonderful underwater life are key to the remarkable rise in sea tourism. Both local and international investors have been quick to see the opportunity and return on investment that new projects here are providing.
However, the rocket-like speed in development has created challenges in the management of the coastal areas and ensuring that the careful exploitation of the region remains commensurate with its potential without damage that exceeds its benefits.
Developing sea and island tourism as a spearhead sector is an important strategy in the country’s road to sustainable socio-economic development. Ensuring that the provinces develop a close connection with the region’s ecology, while maintaining a rational exploitation of its potential, is key. With such an approach, this region will continue to be an ideal and desirable destination in the near future.
Nguyen Van Son, Deputy Chairman of the Hoi An People’s Committee, recognised that the tourism economy is posing many challenges to localities in the central region, including the marine environment of Hoi An. The pollution caused by waste water and the litter of businesses and tourists has not been handled well.
“It is time to harmonise the relationship between conservation and development, between economic growth and landscape preservation and marine environmental protection,” Son said. “We are focusing on building specific coastal products such as sightseeing tourism combined with eco-tourism, heritage tourism associated with resorts, marine sports, and many other auxiliary products.”
Another matter facing central coastal cities and provinces that requires attention is that of sea erosion and landslides. In recent years, beaches have become seriously eroded, requiring the government to spend millions of US dollars on building embankments to prevent landslides.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Quang Nam People’s Committee to study information related to the proposal of constructing artificial islands to prevent coastal erosion in Hoi An. Among the hardest hit erosion areas in the central coast is Cua Dai Beach, which lies within the protection area of the World Cultural Heritage site of Hoi An. It is now on red alert, after suffering from serious erosion.
Over the past 10 years, the landslide problem at Cua Dai Beach has become increasingly complicated, escalating to the point where the central province has had to spend a considerable amount of money on a solution.
Seeking a more comprehensive and adaptive answer, the local authorities plan to spend €42 million ($47 million) on potential solutions with the assistance of an international expert team.
Dinh Van Thu, Chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee, said the province has crafted a solution to submit to the government. It would require an investment capital amount of VND700 billion ($30.43 million) on more dykes, sand bank protection, and dredging at Cua Dai Beach. The scope of the proposed project encompasses 2.5km at the most serious landslide sites.
In addition, the province is studying a long-term project, also worth €42 million ($47 million), to completely solve the landslide issue at Cua Dai Beach.
“We have invited international and domestic experts to study and set up incentives for the investment,” Thu said. “Two foreign expert teams from France and Japan, and a group of leading experts in Vietnam, are currently studying the most optimal plan.”
Serious landslides not only risk destroying one of Asia’s most beautiful beaches but also affect the daily life and business activities of many coastal shops and restaurants. Just five years ago, erosion caused a major collapse at the million-dollar Fusion Alya resort, forcing the investor to abandon the project.
According to the Quang Nam People’s Committee, in order to save Cua Dai Beach, the local authorities have monitored the changes in sedimentation in the area. Scientific conferences have also been organised to offer the best solutions with thousands of US dollars having been invested. But more will need to be done.
Up to now, three measures of emergency treatments to deal with landslides at Cua Dai Beach have been applied. They include making hard embankments, placing soft dikes 200m away from the shore, and adding sand to landslides.
Recently, as part of a delegation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to Cua Dai Beach, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cornelia van Nieuwenhuizen proposed the building of an artificial island there. She proposed that the approach could be an appropriate solution to the landslide challenge in the area.
Meanwhile, Phung Quoc Hien, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly, suggested that Quang Nam authorities consider the plan of building of a two-layer breakwater. According to Hien, the southernmost province of Ca Mau is effective evidence that Quang Nam could apply it.