Thi Nai Lagoon, a distinctive salt marsh ecosystem spanning 5,000 hectares in Quy Nhon City, the capital of Binh Dinh Province in south-central Vietnam, is set to become the focal point of a planned urban area in the province.
Binh Dinh authorities envision the development of the lagoon, known for its rich biodiversity encompassing various plant and animal species.
"Thi Nai Lagoon is graced with stunning landscapes, nestled amid mountains, rivers, the sea, and islets, rendering it highly attractive to visitors," said Pham Anh Tuan, chairman of the Binh Dinh Province People’s Committee.
"The lagoon holds the potential to evolve into a world-class tourist destination."
The Binh Dinh administration plans to turn the lagoon into a one-of-a-kind area in the province by promoting its historical and cultural values and protecting its natural ecosystem, Tuan said.
Pulling a net out of the lagoon, Nguyen Van Dung, a 78-year-old fisherman from Diem Van Hamlet, Phuoc Thuan Commune under Tuy Phuoc District, said that many local residents rely on the waterway to earn an income.
"I am delighted to hear about the transformation of the lagoon into a modern urban area," he said.
|A corner of Thi Nai Lagoon in Quy Nhon City, a popular beach city in Binh Dinh Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Lam Thien / Tuoi Tre
Located approximately eight kilometers northeast of Quy Nhon, Thi Nai Lagoon stands as the largest of its kind in Binh Dinh, characterized by vast green mangrove forests and an extensive network of canals.
Standing on the north side of the lagoon is the Phuong Mai peninsula, which is home to rocky mountains and vast sand dunes.
At one point, Thi Nai Lagoon acted as a marine base for soldiers from Tay Son. It also witnessed several naval battles in the late 18th century and the early 19th century.
In late 2006, Binh Dinh inaugurated the Thi Nai Bridge, marking the longest cross-sea bridge in Vietnam at that time.
This bridge, linking Quy Nhon with the northeastern area, played a pivotal role in unlocking opportunities for economic development in the region.
Under an urban development plan approved by the central government in late December last year, Binh Dinh will build a sustainable and smart urban area.
Within the province, urbanization will be seen as a key driver for economic growth.
Notably, Thi Nai Lagoon will play a role as the center of the prosperous Quy Nhon City, while traffic infrastructure will be developed around the lagoon.
In 2017, the provincial administration launched a design competition for the area surrounding the lagoon.
The ‘Lagoon-side Vitality’ design by a Vietnam - France joint venture won the first prize.
Tran Viet Bao, director of the provincial Department of Construction, has outlined plans for the development of a tourism-commercial urban area situated to the east of Thi Nai Lagoon, aiming to leverage the area's natural landscapes.
The province is committed to integrating wildlife conservation considerations into the implementation of this project.
The projected urban area is meant to build the ‘Tourism in Quy Nhon City - Binh Dinh’ brand, Bao said.
The lagoon-side area will be festooned with a series of squares, recreational spaces, an opening community space, and facilities designed to provide trade and tourism services for residents and visitors.
Ho Quoc Dung, secretary of the provincial Party Committee and chairman of the Binh Dinh People’s Council, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in early 2024 that officials and locals expect the province to soon become one of the more developed localities in Vietnam.
To make that dream come true, Quy Nhon must be turned into a modern urban area centered around Thi Nai Lagoon.
“Quy Nhon City is the heart of Binh Dinh Province, while Thi Nai Lagoon will be considered the heart of the new Quy Nhon City,” Bao underlined.
|A design for the projected Thi Nai Lagoon urban area in Quy Nhon City, Binh Dinh Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Binh Dinh Department of Construction
Quy Nhon is currently surrounded by the sea and mountains. It spans an area of just 285 square kilometers.
The addition of Thi Nai Lagoon to the city’s development will help expand the city by creating a new space for bustling and modern facilities, both around the lagoon and near the Phuong Mai peninsula.
Furthermore, the province will invest in a tourism-centered railway that will link Phu Cat Airport and the Nhon Hoi economic zone, as well as skirt part of the lagoon-side urban area to reach Quy Nhon.
After the administrative hub of the province is relocated to the Nhon Hoi economic zone, the lagoon-side urban area will become the core part of Quy Nhon and allow it to beef up its connection with logistics centers at the airport, An Nhon Town, and seaside areas, the provincial leader said.
“It is vital to preserve the mangrove forests of Thi Nai Lagoon if the province deploys the urban area project,” Nguyen Van Khanh, a resident of Quy Nhon, said, explaining that the forests around the lagoon are the ‘green lungs’ of the city.
Fisherman Nguyen Van Dung said, “Many locals wondered whether developing an urban area would plague the nature of the lagoon."
"Nevertheless, I am confident that the provincial administration will take preventive measures to ensure that any potential negative impacts on the lagoon are avoided if they decide to harness its value and potentialities."
Thi Nai Lagoon boasts some 573 species of flora and fauna, with 111 fish species and 12 rare and endangered animals, according to statistics released in 2020 by the Binh Dinh Department of Natural Resources and Environment.