Pollution emergency destroys tourism in central Vietnam
by Tran Vinh

In some areas affected by the Formosa Plastics Group scandal, revenues are down by 90 per cent with thousands of jobs lost. Fishermen, small businesses and local artisans are especially at risk. Locals want the authorities to help people. Instead, they only reassure locals that the water is clean.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The pollution emergency that hit Vietnam’s central provinces has delivered a heavy blow to the local tourism industry.

On top of job losses in the fishing industry, locals complain of the drop in tourists, discouraged by the poor quality of water and fish. Compared to 2015, the provinces of Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên and Hà Tĩnh have lost a million visitors.

Tourism Office statistics show that " marine tourism-related business in Hà Tĩnh dropped by 90 per cent. Sales and services fell by 40-50 per cent." Quảng Bình province lost revenue worth 1,900 billion dong (US$ 85 million), including restaurants, hotels and handicraft products.

According to the Provincial People’s Committee, "local tourism has been seriously damaged. More than 4,000 workers are in precarious conditions; 30,000 direct and 7,200 indirect jobs have been lost.”

For experts in small economic projects, “In order to help small businesses, fishermen, farmers and artisans, the government should take measures such as cut or cancel bank interest".

Despite the discouraging news from the sites polluted by the Formosa Plastics Group, the Vietnamese government is trying to reassure the population.

In the National Assembly on 16 November, the Environment Minister confirmed "once more that the water in the central provinces is safe. We base this on analyses of sediments, as well as water at seabed and surface levels. Thus, normal sports activities, tourism and aquaculture can be carried out."

Local residents take a different view. Nguyễn Duc Quynh, deputy general manager of the Đà Nẵng Furama Resort, told a local newspaper that "I do not see what programmes we can carry out. We cannot rush it. We need more time before the accident is settled and things go back to normal."

According to the manager, to protect tourism the authorities should adopt more laws to protect the environment.