No more colorful lanterns on boats, Hoi An decides

By Nguyen Dong   February 19, 2022 | 11:30 pm PT
No more colorful lanterns on boats, Hoi An decides
A boat with color lanterns and pinwheels in Hoi An's Hoai River, Quang Nam Province. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong
Local officials have instructed all ships and boats on the Hoai River to remove lanterns and pinwheels, saying these colorful decorations affect Hoi An Town's image.

On Saturday, many ships and boats on the river had to take down their lanterns and colorful decorative pinwheels at the request of the Hoi An People's Committee.

Each boat is only allowed to keep two lanterns hanging on the front and rear of the boat, and these should not be higher than a sitting passenger.

Vo Phung, Standing Vice Chairman of Quang Nam Tourism Association, said removal of the lanterns and pinwheels was necessary because too many colors affect the landscape of the old town, known for its yellow walls and old red tiled roofs.

Boats with lanterns of various colors, shapes and types, combined with green and red pinwheels, have been on the Hoai River since 2018.

Phung, director of Hoi An Cultural Center, had vehemently opposed the move right at the outset, sending a document stipulating that "each boat must not have more than one lantern."

"Hoi An needs to keep the simple and rustic features of an old ancient town to develop sustainable tourism, the town should not be mixed with many colors, which is not true to its traditional characteristics," he said.

The image of colorful decorations on Hoi An boats had decreased for a while, but in late 2021, when the town began to welcome back tourists after a Covid-19 pause, the boats with colorful lanterns emerged again.

When many people get on the boats, the Hoai River glitters with abundant colors in the afternoon.

Nguyen Thi Xuan, 50, who has been serving passengers on the Hoai River for more than 20 years, said that she only hung one lantern on the boat in the past, but people saw that hanging many lanterns and pinwheels made it easier to lure customers.

"Many guests like to go on colorfully decorated boats with lights in the evening, it's very eye-catching. Now the city has asked us to remove it; we hope that the number of guests won't go down," Xuan said.

Nguyen Minh Ly, Vice Chairman of Hoi An People's Committee, said that boats on the Hoai River have contributed to tourism development in the past, but the decoration "is not right, not suitable" with the beauty and riverside landscape of the old town.

In addition to changing the boat decorations, Hoi An will also rearrange their activities. They will operate in groups, with a manager ensure there are "no issues affecting visitors."

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