|A waiter in a cafe hosts visitors with a smile in Hoi An (Photo courtesy Cafe Faifo)|
He said booming mass tourism and rapid urbanisation in Hoi An in recent years had partly spoilt the good-natured image of Hoi An’s people and culture that has been preserved for generations. The project introduced a code of conduct for local residents, promoting gentle manners, he added
Phung said the project had implemented a survey among the community in two residential quarters – Cam Pho and Minh An – two crowd tourism sites and old houses in the old quarter of Hoi An.
“The city has seen some poor manners among local people including littering in public sites, honking their horns too much in traffic, harassing and overcharging tourists and making noise in public places,” Phung said, adding these bad actions had not been seen in the community in the past centuries.
“The lifestyle and culture among merchants from Europe, Japan and China emerged 500 years ago when the city was a busy trading port, and the cultural values were inherited and preserved by generations.”
Phung, who masterminded the project, said Hoi An should preserve its cultural values as a heritage of its ancestors to promote a good-natured society and the development of tourism.
In a recent survey among communities in the old quarter, only 19 percent of asked residents said they did not litter in public sites, while 25 percent sounded their horn too much in traffic.
Half of interviewees said they always expressed their hospitality and willingly offered help to other people, or kept calm in dealing with public conflicts like accidents.
Phung also said 65 percent respect the lifestyle and culture of visitors, while 64 percent often offer apologies for wrongdoings.
Half of the people in the two living quarters have preserved their ancestors’ traditionally polite behaviour.
Vo Tan Tan, a local man in the often-visited Cam Thanh nipa palm forest, said the tranquillity of Hoi An – a UNESCO-recognised world heritage site – has been degraded due to an overload of tourism and poor travel service management.
The tourism hub is burdened by coaches carrying crowds of tourists on the city’s limited traffic infrastructure, and traffic congestion is a common sight in the evening.
According to the city’s Culture and Sports Centre, 2.3 million tourists, including two million foreigners, visited the old quarter in Hoi An. Half of the foreign tourists were from China and the Republic of Korea.
The number of tourists from Thailand and Netherlands increased quickly last year, with the rate of 163% and 84%, respectively.
Visitors from France, Germany, Spain and the US decreased by between 4% and 13.9% in comparison to last year.
Local people have been encouraged to keep the tranquillity and have been asked to avoid single-use plastic bags, straws and cups.
Hoi An has reserved streets in the old quarter and an expanded area in the west of the city for use as walking streets from 9am to 11am and from 3pm till 9:30pm during the rainy season and 10pm in summer. Motorbikes and vehicles with engines have access for four hours per day and at night time.