Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers for their thoughts on the introduction of tourist cable cars across the nation. Here are some responses:
Dennis Berg, American, HCM City
The issue is not simple. Viet Nam tends to approach issues very simplistically. While economic development is important, these sites are treasures that, once destroyed, are almost impossible to reclaim.
There is no simple answer to your questions. There are several competing goals: you want to attract tourists and you want to protect the environment and the natural state of the sites.
Viet Nam has to figure out how to balance these competing goals. Cable cars are not the right answer for every difficult tourist site in Viet Nam, but they may be right for some.
I don't think the cable car systems that have already been built or are being developed have been properly considered. It takes good planning, consideration of all the impacts and community input to minimise damage to the environment.
Tran Mai Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I'm not saying we shouldn't build cable-car projects, but they need to be carefully planned and considered before execution. First of all, cable-cars consume a huge amount of funding. The Fansipan-Sapa cable car system could cost up to US$209 million. Others might cost less, but it's always in the range of millions and millions of dollars.
The question is: Do we need more cable-car projects to promote tourism or we should put these funding into improving important infrastructure, such as roads and bridges?
While cable-cars allow more tourists to visit natural heritage sites, you definitely don't want to overload these sites with people. They are not shopping malls.
Authorities must not also allow private companies to overload cable-cars with passengers as this can lead to fatal consequences.
Sites such as Huong Pagoda are sacred to pilgrims. They have always been overloaded with people during the festival season, but more cable-cars are not the solution.
Nguyen Hong Giang, Vietnamese, Da Nang
I've travelled in the Ba Na cable car and the views were spectacular, showing the mountains sloping down to Da Nang City and the sea below as we crossed over jungle and waterfalls. Ba Na cable cars have attracted more and more international tourists to the central region, but that does not mean more is good.
Many people criticise the Fansipan-Sapa cable cars. I hope that the construction will not affect the eco-system.
The cable cars should not be allowed to spoil the views of backpackers and those who still want to conquer the mountain the hard way. Limiting the number of riders per day might be the way to preserve these sites.
JD Kellas, Australian, Pleiku
Cable cars are commonly used in mountain regions and are often associated with winter snow sports or other tourist destinations.
The only cable car I have travelled on in Viet Nam was during a day tour at Da Lat. The views over the forests and local farming communities were a panorama of landscapes.
I note that more cable cars are now being built in mountain areas. One hopes that all the environmental protections have been adhered to during those constructions and that the resorts and viewing stations at the top don't become eyesores with garish tourist souvenir and food stalls.
The site managers should make sure that all litter and debris is removed on a daily basis to keep the natural beauty of sites they are now trying to promote.
The most important issue is to maintain the interest of tourists through top-notch safety procedures and routine inspections. Without properly addressing occupational health and safety issues, cable systems can become dangerous and hazardous.
Westerners will be reluctant to travel if there is a history of accidents. That said, I can't wait for the completion of the Sa Pa-Fansipan cable car. — VNS