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Amid Tourism Boom, Hoi An Places Stricter Regulations on Homestays

Hoi An Town authorities have issued new regulations requiring all homestays be operated by residents who are not married to foreigners.

According to the new restrictions aimed at preserving and promoting local culture and daily life, all homestay operators must be from Hoi An and live in families with at least two generations. They're also required to have a hộ khẩu, or household register, at the same address as the homestay. The facilities must also have ancestral altars, a common room, but no more than two floors. The lodgings can have no more than seven bedrooms including no more than five for guests.

Opinions are divided on the new rules. Many locals support them as a way to maintain their community and traditions. Guests who stay with a local family often join them as they do their daily work in the market, rice fields, gardens, and kitchen as well as relax with them at home, and therefore, come to better understand the local customs and lifestyle. Homestays also provide families with extra income which saves them from having to sell land or work as a hired laborers.

Those that support the regulations say that foreign investors are free to develop hotels or resorts however they would like as long as they don’t call them "homestays." The new measures simply ensure that official homestays don’t operate with “virtually no connection between the hosts and their guests,” according to Le Van Binh, head of Hoi An’s trade and tourism authority. He will lead inspections of all current homestays to make sure they conform to all new requirements.

Those against the new rules argue the regulations are unnecessary or even illegal. Phan Dinh Hue, director of Vong Tron Viet travel firm, offered examples of homestays run by foreigners that operate successfully and suggested “Hoi An should not set strict requirements on the nationality of homestay owners, but should choose a way to develop homestay services that are attractive to travelers.” Lawyer Kieu Anh Vu from the HCMC Bar Association says the rules are contrary to provisions in the Investment Law and Tourism Law and must, therefore, be reconsidered.

Tourism in Hoi An is booming, with more than three million annual tourists driving the demand for homestays. According to Dinh Hai, director of Quang Nam Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, there are currently 225 households in Hoi An City that offer homestay services and tourist response to them has been overwhelmingly positive.

[Photo via Quang Nam Photos]


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