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Lao Cai Officials Want to Build Sapa Airport

Does Sapa need a dedicated airport?

Apparently, local authorities seem to think so. Dan Tri reports that not long ago, Lao Cai officials submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Transport suggesting that the central government consider building a civilian-military airport near the mountainous resort town.

The reasons behind this plan, of course, is to maximize Sapa’s tourism potential by bringing in more travelers and goods. The proposed Sapa Airport will cost VND5.7 trillion (US$251 million) to construct; most of the money would come from either the state budget, private investment, or a combination of both, the plan dictates.

The aerodrome would be based on a 371-hectare site in Cam Con Commune, Bao Yen District, serving aircraft belonging to the A320 family. The first phase of the construction, which might begin before 2020, would establish the basic structures of the facilities. About VND4.75 trillion of the budget would be used in this stage to develop an airport capable of servicing 560,000 passengers and 600 tons of goods per year.

The second phase would happen from now until 2030 and upgrade the airport’s capacity to handle up to 1.5 million commuters and 2,880 tons of cargo annually. As Sapa rises in the rank of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations, the country has also been giving it a lot of attention, transport-wise.

In May 2017, the Hanoi Railway Transport Company conducted a total revamp of its Hanoi–Lao Cai trains by adding more comfortable seats, beds and better toilets in hopes of attracting more passengers. In April this year, a private company also launched a two-kilometer mountain railway service going over the Muong Hoa Mountain.

All of these transport options – and a possible airport – might excite tourists, but the reality is they might only serve to accelerate Sapa’s gentrification rates. The town’s natural and cultural heritage is currently threatened by unchecked development and mass-market tourism.

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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