by Phuoc Buu
THUA THIEN-HUE (VNS) — Fewer visitors are arriving at the roof-tiled Thanh Toan bridge – a sister of the Japanese-style bridge in Hoi An – that serves as a favourite rural gateway during hot summer days.
The source of the decline in visitor numbers is the barrier that has been erected across the entrance, 50m ahead of the bridge site, by local authorities. Many visitors said the barrier unnecessarily forces them to walk this distance to the site. They also cited concerns about having to pay for parking since they do not know where the money ends up.
"I don't think the barrier is necessary. The parking charges will deter people from visiting this peaceful site. The barrier creates a nuisance," said Vinh Bao Huy, a fan of the site.
Meanwhile, owners of eateries located around the bridge, claimed that they have experienced a business crisis during the off-peak season, when fewer tourists visit the site, since the barrier was erected in April 20. They noted that the number of daily visitors to the site has dropped to about half of the 150-200 visitors previously seen.
"Normally, groups of visitors would arrive at the site on bikes, stopping at the empty plot of land in front of my juice stand, and from there, they would walk around to enjoy the view," remarked Nguyen Thi Kinh.
Kinh is one of the two local celebrities at the site. She can create and recite poems on the spot and performs local folk songs, free of charge, for tourists who sit down to buy her a drink.
"Not many have wanted to stop to hear me singing since the barrier went into effect last month," she said.
Local authorities explained that the barrier is aimed at keeping the site tidy. Tran Duy Khanh, chairman of the Thuy Thanh commune, where the bridge is located, noted that the barrier prevents bikes and buffalo from crossing the wooden bridge.
Locals suggested the commune authorities could move the barrier closer to the bridge if they want to protect it. They want their bridge to be a peaceful site that gives visitors complete freedom and joy, just as it did before the barrier was erected. — VNS