Sơn Trà National Tourism Site plan temporarily suspended

Update: May, 29/2017 - 12:00
Foundations of columns in a construction site on Sơn Trà Mountain. Rapid development of hotels and resorts on the peninsula could turn Đà Nẵng’s natural habitat into a desert and the world’s large population of red-shanked douc langurs could face extinction, experts warn. — VNS Photo Công Thành
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — By August end, any activity related to implementation of the Sơn Trà National Tourism Site Development plan or construction on the Sơn Trà Peninsula in Đà Nẵng City must be suspended.

This was stated by Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam on Sunday at a meeting with local leaders and representatives from relevant ministries in Hà Nội.

The move is aimed at making time for relevant parties, experts and scientists to review the plan and discuss a recommendation by the Đà Nẵng City Tourism Association which states that the Sơn Trà Peninsula should be kept unchanged with the current accommodation of 300 rooms, and no other hotels should be located in the area.

Under a Government plan outlined in May 2013 and approved in November 2016, the Sơn Trà Mountain on the Sơn Trà Peninsula has been planned as a national tourism site and a top luxury eco-tour resort complex in 2030, to accommodate 300,000 tourists staying in 1,600 luxury hotel rooms.

Before May 2013, Đà Nẵng City People’s Committee had already approved 18 tourism projects on the peninsula, including 11 housing projects expected to provide some 5,000 new rooms. Since then, it has not approved any project to be developed on the peninsula, which has the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve that is 600m above sea level and well-known for its rich biodiversity, with 287 animal species and 985 plant species.

As soon as the tourism development plan was publicised on February, 15, 2017, the city’s Tourism Association strongly opposed the plan, suggesting no more hotels and resorts be built or any construction work be carried out on the peninsula to avoid possible threats to the local biodiversity and environment.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had earlier asked all relevant parties to review the Sơn Trà tourism development master plan and report to him by the end of this month.

“A key point that needs further discussing is whether Đà Nẵng should reduce the number of rooms to be built on the peninsula and how many additional rooms are acceptable,” Deputy PM Đam said at yesterday’s meeting, adding that there was obviously no option for building more than 1,600 rooms.

As the city had to discuss the issue with investors of approved projects on the peninsula, it was asked to give the final answer on the scale of tourism projects on Sơn Trà Peninsula to the Prime Minister by August 30

Đà Nẵng City, ministries of tourism, information and communication and relevant agencies, meanwhile, will organise consultation workshops in the future to collect opinions.

As the Việt Nam News reported earlier, the chairman of the city’s tourism association, Huỳnh Tấn Vinh, who supports conservation of the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve for sustainable tourism development, said the city has built 600 hotels and resorts with a total of 22,000 rooms to host 15 million tourists each year.

He said, however, only 50 per cent of the room capacity was used, with the city only hosting 5.6 million tourists last year, even as two and three-star hotels were still being constructed in the city.

Vinh sent petitions to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asking for an adjustment of the Sơn Trà master plan.

Experts warn that rapid development of hotels and resorts on the peninsula could turn Đà Nẵng’s natural habitat into a desert and the world’s large population of red-shanked douc langurs could face extinction.

The Sơn Trà Nature Reserve is the most preferred site for tourists to see the red-shanked douc langur from close range. — VNS