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Every Holiday Season, Da Lat Chokes Under Tourism Pressures

It would take from three to five years for the problem to get worse, according to the director of the Da Lat Department of Construction.

For the last two years, whenever there is a holiday, roads leading to Da Lat city center become clogged with vehicles, according to Tuoi Tre. The areas that suffer the most are the ones that surround Xuan Huong Lake and Hoa Binh Square, two of the city's main hot spots. Traffic jams usually take place between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 7pm.

For tourists and locals alike, this problem robs the city of some of its charms. “It’s almost like rush hour in Ho Chi Minh City,” observed tourist Nguyen Hoang Nam’s as he was making his way out of the area near Xuan Huong Lake. Nguyen Diem Phuong, a local, recalled her frustrating experience: “On the evening of the third day of Tet, a 2km drive into the city center took me 70 minutes.”

However, the outside layer of the city remains spacious. The Department of Transportation explained that the city’s traffic structure, combined with the uneven distribution of hotels, restaurants, boarding houses, and tourist attractions is the main reason for the congestion.

Anyone who wants to travel from the south to the north of the city or vice versa will have to pass through the city center, a spot that on its own already attracts a considerable amount of vehicles due to the prevalence of accommodation options. This adds more traffic pressure on these areas. Da Lat currently has 1,000 hotels, 17,000 rooms, with a total capacity of 50,000 guests per night. There are some roads – such as Nguyen Chi Thanh, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, and Phan Boi Chau – that are no more than one kilometer long but contains more than 100 hotels and boarding houses.

To make matters worse, the country's car ownership rate is likely to spike in the near future because the tax on cars imported from ASEAN was reduced to 0% in January this year. Sai Gon Giai Phong estimated a 20% increase in the number of seven-seater vehicles and below entering Da Lat during Tet compared to last year. 

Congestion and overcrowding also take a toll on the city's environment. Recently, worrying images of a garbage-filled Da Lat Market on the sixth day of Tet, taken by a group of tourists, and made the news, angering netizens.

Da Lat Department of Transport Director Truong Huu Hiep has laid out a short-term solution by restricting the opening of new hospitality services in the city center and offering preferential policies for new businesses that want to launch in less developed areas.

City officials are also looking to long-term solutions, including building a bus station four kilometers from the city center, and developing Tuyen Lam Lake into a tourism center, thus relieving the tourist-caused pressure on locals' livelihoods and the environment in the city center, all the while expanding development into outer areas.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]


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