Sanding it down: Plans underway to transform Hoi An into major beach resort destination

Hoi An is a charming ancient town in Vietnam. Pic: amadeustx/Shutterstock

PLANS are underway to transform Vietnam’s historic coastal town of Hoi An into a major southeast Asian beach resort destination by the end of the decade.

According to a report in Travel Daily Media, a new “integrated tourism and leisure destination” called Hoiana will be developed along the four-kilometer stretch of beach a short distance away from the town of Hoi An.

The project is slated to cost US$4 billion, and the first phase will open to public by the first quarter of 2019.

Chairman of the project, Don Lam, said that Hoiana would become “one of Asia’s most renowned resort destinations” setting “a benchmark for high-end tourism in Vietnam”.

He added, “To the visitor, Vietnam’s central coast offers an immersive and multifaceted experience.

Hoi An’s stretch of beach will be developed into a tourist hub. Pic: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

“Vibrant ancient cities, breathtaking mountain vistas, countless pristine beaches, relative affordability, easy access and welcoming people make it a highly attractive destination for tourists – and for enterprise, it’s the land of golden opportunity.”

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The report also unveiled that the project will include a resort beach club, a venue for live shows and events, a watersports and dive center, a retail promenade, and a collection of restaurants and bars.

The developers of the project revealed that once Hoiana project is fully complete, it will resemble a “thriving township of hotels, residential, and lifestyle zones”.

However, in the last few years, Hoi An has fallen victim to unfinished projects and construction, leaving behind a “ghost resort village” in Cua Dai.

The land facing the sea was once allocated to big investors, and thousands of families were forced out of their homes to make way for the project.

A project in Cua Dai affected by soil erosion. Pic: xuanhuongho/Shutterstock

During the stormy season, the unfinished resorts were hit by strong waves and soil erosion, and caused developers to scramble for a solution.

Quang Nam provincial authorities and resort owners built embankments to prevent waves from crashing into the beachfront while resort owners spent large amounts of money to throw stones into the sea.

As a result, the Cua Dai beach now looks like a “roughly patched shirt” as the impact of erosion and waves continue to threaten the future of the project.

Meanwhile, a separate ecotourism village, Gami Hoi An, was also in the pipeline before construction for the project unexpectedly halted.

VietNamNet reported that the village – projected at US$43 million – is only 400m away Hoi An town, and was slated to include a multi-function conference center, a five-star hotel, luxury villas, a marina center, and commercial and retail areas.

Some argue Hoi An’s original charm will be tainted following major developments. Pic: Evgeny Ermakov/Shutterstock

However, not all locals and frequent Hoi An visitors do not think the project will bring about positive changes to the ancient town.

Nguyen Su, former secretary of the Hoi An City Party Committee, said that the provincial authorities ignored current regulations when allowing the investor to build works with a height of up to 16.5 meters, or three meters higher than the maximum allowed level of 13.5 meters.

“The regulation on heritage conservation has been ignored,” he said. “I don’t think this is extremely important work. The local authorities must not let a project affect the entire living space of Hoi An”.

He added, “During the development process, if rivers ‘die’ and islets are replaced with concrete works or high-rise buildings, the future of Hoi An will be damaged.”

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