Hoi An seeks to control tourism boom on protected islands

By VnExpress   April 25, 2017 | 06:35 pm PT
Hoi An seeks to control tourism boom on protected islands
Cu Lao Cham. Photo by VnExpress/Ma Lum
For the Cham Islands, a sharp increase in visitors is both a curse and a blessing.

The tourist town of Hoi An in central Vietnam is moving to better control the number of tourists coming to its Cu Lao Cham (Cham Islands), a protected area treasured for its biosphere.

The islands, only a 30-minute boat ride from Cua Dai Beach, have been overwhelmed by its own popularity among travelers in recent years.

According to media reports, up to 3,000 tourists arrive each day during the peak season between June and August, drawn by beautiful white beaches and primitive forests. The number hits 4,000 on some weekends.

In a bid to contain this boom, the town will replace paper-based tickets with eletronic ones. A visitor control system worth VND1.7 billion (over $74,600) will be put into use in mid-August to only let in tourists with the new cards, according to a report on the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s website.


Speed boats bring tourists from Cua Dai to the Cham Islands. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

It is not immediately clear if the city will also impose a daily limit on a number of visitors. The turnstile system at Cua Dai Beach can allow up to 1,200 people to pass through per hour.

Tickets are expected to remain unchanged, at VND70,000 ($3) per person.

The Cham Islands residents are known for their eco-friendly lifestyle. In 2009 they abandoned plastic bags and started an impressive campaign to clean up the environment. The eight small islands form the Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area, a biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO.


The residents of the islands are known for their eco-friendly lifestyle. Photo by VnExpress/Huong Chi

Hoi An had already tightened control over the number of daily trips that tourist boats can make in an attempt to limit the crowds, the Vietnam News Agency reported last month, citing a senior official. The agency said around 140 speed boats are serving the Cua Dai-Cham Islands route.

Cua Dai Beach itself is a favorite destination in Hoi An. It has just recovered from erosion which, for three years, robbed the beach of its sand and its tourists.

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