Tourism obsession turns green retreat into construction site outside Hanoi

By Pham Hung, Phuong Son   December 18, 2017 | 07:16 pm PT
'For Tam Dao to become a high-ranking tourism site, we have to accept some impacts on life and the environment.'

The hillside town of Tam Dao in Vinh Phuc Province is two-hour drive to north of hustling Hanoi. It stands 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level, offering a fresh escape that draws more than one million visitors every year. The rural district where mountains stretch endlessly from the back of old French buildings has become the latest victim of the tourism boom in Vietnam.


The government plans to transform Tam Dao into an ecotourism and mountainous retreat by 2020, prompting a construction rush to take advantage of more visitors.


Dust and noise from the construction have been plaguing Tam Dao for more than a year.


High-rise buildings are popping up all around the two-square-kilometer town.


“I was hoping for a refreshing weekend, but instead we got caught in a massive construction site,” said Hai, a visitor from Hanoi.


The sidewalks are littered with construction materials, so tourists have to walk on the dusty roads.


Officials in the town are of course all supportive of the development. “For Tam Dao to become a high-ranking tourism site, we have to accept some impacts on life and the environment,” said Do Van Chuc, a senior official of Tam Dao.


Officials said construction work is expected to last until 2019.


Some colonial-era villas are being rebuilt "to fit with the scenery," an official said.

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