It appears that Vietnamese tourism developers are ‘obsessed’ with cable cars, as they have a tendency to propose building one wherever there is a mountain that prevents tourists from visiting an attraction en masse.
The latest instance can be found at the Bach Ma National Park, home to the namesake mountain, in the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien - Hue, where a developer has suggested building not only one but two cable links to serve visitors of their resort complex.
The complex is planned to consist of two sections, one covering 64 hectares near the gate to the park and the other measuring 300 hectares on top of Bach Ma Mount for accommodation, spiritual tourism and recreation services, according to the project consultant, U.S. architect firm Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo (WATG).
The first proposed cable car, spanning four kilometers, will carry visitors to the peak of Bach Ma Mount inside the national park and the other will stretch 1.6 kilometers from that summit to the top of a nearby waterfall.
The project is also designed to restore and bring back to life 139 abandoned villas along the side of Bach Ma Mount and a tower for sightseeing on its peak that were all built by the French in the 20th century.
According to news website VnExpress, the Thua Thien-Thue administration approved the VND1.5 trillion (US$66 million) plan in 2014.
However, it organized a conference with the participation of many experts in architecture, forest protection and tourism to discuss this plan again on Saturday, with the two proposed cable car links attracting the most attention.
La Thi Kim Ngan, former deputy head of the Vietnam Institute for Urban and Rural Planning (VIUP), said the resort development plan will draw too many projects to the top of Bach Ma Mount, while these facilities should be placed in the residential areas surrounding the national park.
“This will not only create jobs for locals but also save the mountain from being ruined by many concrete structures,” Ngan said at the meeting.
“The cable car from the mountain peak to the fall is unnecessary and should be reconsidered."
Echoing Ngan’s words, Nguyen Xuan Hoa, former director of the province’s culture department, said too many projects on the Bach Ma peak would “overwhelm nature.”
Hoa also agreed with Ngan that the province should eliminate the proposal of building the cable car to the waterfall.
Martial art master Nguyen Van Dung, who has spent years trekking to the Bach Ma peak, likewise said having too many tourism projects atop the mountain will bring about an enormous encroachment on the natural environment there.
Dung also expressed his concerns that waste and effluent from tourist activities will eventually flow into the stream inside the park and then to the Huong River that runs through Thua Thien - Hue.
“Who can guarantee that wastewater from the Bach Ma tourism complex will not cause pollution?” Dung questioned the meeting board.
“I think we should have specific and careful environmental impact assessment for this plan,” he suggested.
Nguyen Ngoc Lung, head of the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification, on the other hand, raised a question on the investor’s capability to fulfill the task of preserving the natural habitat in Bach Ma.
He emphasized that ecotourism is a way to effectively conserve the environment as it educates people about it, but he did not see any of this in the plan.
The Bach Ma National Park was established in 1991 and covers more than 37,000 hectares.
It is some 50 kilometers to the southeast of the imperial city of Hue, the provincial capital and tourism center which mainly draws tourists to temples and royal tombs that dated back to the time when Vietnam was reigned by the Nguyen dynasty from1802 to 1945.
The park’s biodiversity is considered one of the richest in Vietnam and the Southeast Asian region.