Hoi An (Viet Nam), a UNESCO World Heritage property, is a small city covering an area of approximately 60 km² with just over 121,000 inhabitants. The reinvestment of the economic benefits of tourism in Hoi An into heritage conservation and community development, demonstrate ways in which cultural heritage safeguarding can contribute to sustainable development.
Since 1999, Hoi An has experienced rapid tourism development, generated by the Strategic Policy for Tourism in Hoi An as part of the country’s Master Plan on tourism development, which saw tourist numbers to the city swell from 160,000 in 1999 to over 1.5 million today. Local communities are the main actors in tourism services, which account for 64% of the municipal revenue. Of the revenue brought by the sale of visitor entry tickets, 75% is reinvested into heritage conservation and promotion activities, and the remaining 25% is allocated to ensuring the quality of services provided by the Tourist Guide Office. By 2006, the number of people employed in the tourism and services sector had increased to over 10,000. Municipal statistics indicate that the number of poor and low-income households dropped substantially over the past decade. Additionally, improved living conditions and infrastructure, such as the establishment of a systematized waste collection service in 2003, have contributed to boosting the quality of life.
From 1997 to 2007 fundraising initiatives, public investment, public-private partnerships, foreign donations and interest-free loans contributed to almost US$5.9 million to restore 168 government-owned heritage buildings. Simultaneously, over 1,000 privately-owned buildings were restored by local owners. Despite the increasing socio-economic development of Hoi An, challenges are still present in the form of tourism pressures and the need to ensure the sustainability of heritage conservation efforts. Better strategies for equal tourism revenue distribution amongst the local communities are required, and there is still an imperative need to closely monitor the impacts of mass tourism on the identity and integrity of Hoi An.
Source: WHITR-AP, report for Study Area 6