The ancient city of Hội An has launched a campaign to raise awareness of good-natured behaviour and hospitality among the community, promoting a friendly tourism environment to make the city the most popular destination in central Việt Nam.
A waiter in a cafe hosts visitors with a smile in Hội An. The ancient city plans to encourage local people to promote hospitality and friendly manners. — Photo courtesy Cafe Faifo
Director of Hội An’s Culture and Sports Centre Võ Phùng told Việt Nam News that the project will focus on limiting poor manners when hosting tourists in public sites, restaurants and destinations in the old quarter.
He said booming mass tourism and rapid urbanisation in Hội An in recent years had partly spoilt the good-natured image of Hội An’s people and culture that has been preserved for generations.
He said the project introduced a code of conduct for local residents, promoting gentle manners.
Local residents in Hội An give an offering to their ancestors on full-moon day every month. — VNS Photo Công Thành
Phùng said the project had implemented a survey among the community in two residential quarters – Cẩm Phô and Minh An – two crowd tourism sites and old houses in the old quarter of Hội 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,” Phùng 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.”
Phùng, who masterminded the project, said Hội An should preserve its cultural values as a heritage of its ancestors to promote a good-natured society and the development of tourism.
A tourist walks down a peaceful street in the old quarter of Hội An. — VNS Photo Công Thành
In a recent survey among communities in the old quarter, only 19 per cent of asked residents said they did not litter in public sites, while 25 per cent 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.
Phùng also said 65 per cent respect the lifestyle and culture of visitors, while 64 per cent often offer apologies for wrongdoings.
Half of the people in the two living quarters have preserved their ancestors’ traditionally polite behaviour.
Võ Tấn Tân, a local man in the often-visited Cẩm Thanh nipa palm forest, said the tranquility of Hội An – a UNESCO-recognised world heritage site – has been degraded due to an overload of tourism and poor travel service management.
Primary school students join a painting contest on an old street.— VNS Photo Công Thành
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 Hội An. Half of the foreign tourists were from China and Korea.
The number of tourists from Thailand and Netherlands increased quickly last year, with the rate of 163 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively.
Visitors from France, Germany, Spain and the US decreased by between 4 and 13.9 per cent in comparison to last year.
Local people have been encouraged to keep the tranquility and have been asked to avoid single-use plastic bags, straws and cups.
Hội 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. — VNS