Don’t concrete Sơn Trà, says tourism association

Update: May, 30/2017 - 17:39
The Sơn Trà Nature Reserve is a spot where tourists can see the red-shanked douc langur up close and personal. — VNA/VNS Photo Trần Lê Lâm
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Đà Nẵng City Tourism Association insisted at a talk on Sơn Trà Peninsula tourism development on Tuesday morning that no more hotels or buildings should be built on the peninsula to preserve its environment and biodiversity.

Speaking at the talk held in Hà Nội by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Đà Nẵng People’s Committee, head of the association Huỳnh Tấn Vinh said: “Don’t concrete, don’t destroy Sơn Trà.”

He said that his opinion on tourism development on Sơn Trà Peninsula remained unchanged from the petitions that the association submitted to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc earlier asking to adjust the Sơn Trà National Tourism Site plan.

Under the Government plan outlined in May 2013 and approved in November 2016, Sơn Trà Mountain on the Sơn Trà Peninsula is set to become a national tourism site and luxury eco-tour resort complex by 2030, able to accommodate 300,000 tourists with 1,600 luxury hotel rooms.

Before May 2013, Đà Nẵng City People’s Committee had approved 18 tourism projects on the peninsula, including 11 housing projects expected to provide 5,000 new rooms. Since then, it has not approved any project on the peninsula, which has the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve, well-known for its rich biodiversity, with 287 animal species and 985 plant species.

The city’s Tourism Association strongly opposed the master plan after it was publicised on February, 15 this year.

Vinh said at that time he said that they would lose Sơn Trà due to hotels.

“I was reassured that such an outlook would not happen but two weeks later, I saw fast deforestation and construction,” he said.

“It’s time to save Sơn Trà,” he said, suggesting that planning be made in line with conservation and sustainable development for the peninsula.

Sơn Trà and the neighbouring sea stretching to Nam Hải Vân should form a natural reserve like the model of Cù Lao Chàm in Hội An, he said.

“We won’t choose tourism projects with massive hotels. We choose to keep Sơn Trà unchanged, “a green lung@for the next generation.

“If Sơn Trà is turned into resort area, its natural landscape will be ruined and coral could be threatened,” he said.

Head of Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyễn Văn Tuấn said the VNAT also wanted sustainable tourism strategies like Vinh.

However, vice chairman of Đà Nẵng City People’s Committee Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn said that the city could face a shortage of accommodation for tourists if no more hotels were built.

“The city expects to host 15 million visitors yearly by 2030, so it needs nearly 58,000 rooms. Some completed projects on the Sơn Trà Peninsula added 253 rooms and some other projects are ongoing,” he said, adding that it was unreasonable to keep the same number of rooms.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Huỳnh Vĩnh Ái said that the planning for a national tourism site on Sơn Trà Peninsula was made after consulting experts and had Government approval.

Responding to the demand that no more hotels be built there, Ái said the issue was complicated and need careful consideration.

“Should incomplete construction work on the peninsula be removed or continued? Should approved projects be stopped? If yes, how should we deal with?,” Ái raised major questions for debate at the talk which was organised soon after Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam announced the temporary halt of the tourism plan on Sunday.

During the three-month halt, agencies and Đà Nẵng People’s Committee are asked to collect opinions to report to the Prime Minister. — VNS