Hoi An's lucrative tourism sector is facing major fears about the impact of erosion along the ancient town's famous coastline, with dozens of resorts in danger of disappearing underwater in the future.
Part of Cua Dai Beach in the central city Da Nang. In the last couple of decades,
rising sea levels and changes to the river flow in the Thu Bon River estuary have
resulted in a 20ha area of Cua Dai beach eroding away. — Photo www.otofun.net
In the last couple of decades, rising sea levels and changes to the river flow in the Thu Bon River estuary have resulted in a 20-ha area of Cua Dai beach eroding away, the head of the city's natural resources and environment office Nguyen Van Hien has claimed.
"It's the worst situation of its kind that I've ever seen. The beach is dramatically disappearing. It stretched out 200m just 10 years ago, but now it has narrowed to 40m. The rest is underwater now," he said.
"The erosion has even approached a main section of the 1.5km road connecting the beach with Hoi An. We can often see waves crashing heavily against it," he added.
The road in question has already had to be extensively repaired once following damage sustained during a storm two years ago.
Hien blamed the erosion on the booming construction of resorts on the beach and the lack of proper environmental assessments before dredging occurred in the estuary.
"The building of resorts near the sea has changed the flow and currents and taken away sand from the beach every year. This, in combination with rising sea levels, has deepened the erosion taking place on the beach."
Pham Hong Trang, a staff member at the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa, said the resort's beach is now no wider than 10m during the summer.
"The resort was launched in 2000 with a beach that stretched out for 40m, but it is much smaller now. During summer, the view is mostly just waves crashing against the resort's dyke," Trang said.
Similar accounts have been reported at the Sunrise, Golden Sand and Palm Garden resorts along Cua Dai beach.
The rising sea level has eroded 10,000sq.m of the Hoi An sea eco-tour company's 30,000sq.m property and it is now having to invest heavily in order to save what is left.
The city has responded by launching a construction project for a 1.5km embankment at a cost of VND115 billion (US$5.5 million). The dyke will help protect the most heavily damaged section of the road from erosion.
"The embankment is one of the city's seven projects in the fight against climate change. We will also dredge rivers and upgrade roads," said Hoi An City's People's Committee Deputy Chairman Nguyen Van Dung.
The city will also invest VND7.5 billion ($357,000) to replant 140ha of Nipa palm along the Thu Bon river. It is hoped that this ecological forest will protect the city from sea erosion and ease the flow of the river as well as reducing sand drift on the beach.
The majority of forest land in the area was destroyed in recent years to make way for aquaculture farms. Many of these have now been revoked so that the replanting can commence.
Cua Dai beach is 5km from Hoi An's old quarter. It is a favourite location for tourists visiting the UNESCO-recognised city.