Authorities of Phan Si Pang Ward under Sa Pa Town of the northern Lao Cai Province on Thursday dismantled the controversial replica statue of Elsa - the protagonist of Disney’s animated movie ‘Frozen’ - in a local tourism complex after pictures showing its off-kilter proportions garnered backlash from netizens.
The demolition of the statue was confirmed by Nguyen Ngoc Dong, the owner of Ansapa tourism area, and Do Van Tan, deputy chairman of Sa Pa Town People’s Committee, on Thursday.
According to Tan, Ansapa was visited by the authority of Phan Si Pang Ward on Monday after photos of the Elsa statue in the premise went viral on social media for its bizarre outlook.
The next morning, local authority called in a meeting before issuing an official statement, which required Ansapa owner to pull down the structure before Wednesday.
They cited the owner’s failure to register his premise as a tourism spot before the commercial opening as grounds for the decision.
The statement also forced Ansapa’s operations, including all ongoing constructions projects, to be shuttered until its official ‘tourism spot’ status is approved.
On Wednesday, officials of Phan Si Pang Ward returned to Ansapa, only to find the statue staying intact, covered by tarp.
In their defense, Ansapa’s representatives stated that they were having problem bringing the statue’s contractors in Hanoi back to Sa Pa for the demolition due to the COVID-19 movement restriction in place in the capital city.
However, they were still booked for their noncompliance, and coerced into completing the demolition, which wrapped up on Thursday morning.
|The controversial statue of Disney princess Elsa in Ansapa, a tourism complex in Sa Pa Town of Lao Cai Province in northern Vietnam, in this photo supplied by Ansapa.|
Speaking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Ansapa’s owner Nguyen Ngoc Dong said he was disheartened to see the Elsa statue - a gift to his daughter - being pulled down.
“The demolition requires the work of capable engineers, but we were forced to do it without them after receiving the authority’s order on Wednesday morning,” Dong said.
Addressing the paperwork issue, Dong said his facility has acquired business license for many products and services, including tourism.
He also acquired paperwork for his 1.7 hectares of production forest as part of the tourism complex.
Back in April, his complex faced a harsh wave of backlash for the off-kilter Statue of Liberty replica, which also went viral on Vietnamese online communities.
After the incident, he has tried to obtain ‘tourism spot’ status for his premises, having to run back and forth between several functional authorities, but has received no response to date.
The delay could be attributed to Ansapa’s novel direction as a center for photo op structures, which has not yet been stipulated in Vietnamese law, Dong alleged.
The Statue of Liberty, as well as the Elsa sculpture, are only two among various structures that have been erected as photo ops for visitors to Sa Pa Town in recent years.
However, local authority still seems to struggle to administer the rise of these structures, as they have to ask the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for guidance in a recent meeting, Dong added.
On July 6, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) sent an answer to the Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, declaring that Vietnam’s tourism law does not ban tourism facility from operating commercially before they obtain ‘tourism spot’ status, a VNAT representative said in a discussion with Tuoi Tre.
However, these facilities must obtain approval on several other aspects, including land use, urban planning, construction, service fee, and environmental protection.