Hoi An turns into a walkabout town
HOI AN, 10 February 2012: Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage town, Hoi An, will turn itself into a pedestrian-only zone to help preserve its heritage and tourism.
The Hoi An City People’s Committee chairman, Le Van Giang, said the old town is trying to preserve its tranquility and deal with commercialisation.
Traffic problems have already started to blight the old town’s environment and there are signs that air pollution, caused by vehicle exhausts, is damaging historical buildings.
The town became motorised vehicle free, 2 February, during business hours and the rule included even non-polluting electrical bikes.
The restriction applies 0800 to 1100 and from 1400 to 1600, six days a week. Tour buses have to park in designated zones from where tourists must walk, or cycle, to the historical area of the town.
“Since the town has been a pedestrianised, we have already monitored a positive response from visitors,” the chairman said.
United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Vietnam official, Le Thi Thanh Thao, said the UNIDO is managing a project to make Hoi An Vietnam’s first eco-town.
“The project will help the city adopt a green economy and assist SMEs to focus on energy saving as well as improve environmental aspects of tourism and craft industries.”
In 2011, the town attracted 1.52 million tourists an increase of 18.3% year-on-year. Of that, 750,000 were international tourists.
Sightseeing visits stood at 1.13 million, while visitors staying overnight represented 649,000 for an average of 2.16 days per person.
The old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 based on its trading port status dating back to the 15th to 19th centuries and its well-preserved buildings along its river estuary linked to a flourishing sea trade from China.