Support lines up for plan to turn Saigon backpacker streets into pedestrian zone

By Tan Phu, Thanh Nien News

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Bui Vien Street, a major street in the backpacker's area. Photo: Diep Duc Minh Bui Vien Street, a major street in the backpacker's area. Photo: Diep Duc Minh

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Travel agencies, shops and restaurants are throwing their support behind a plan to turn the famous backpackers' area in downtown Ho Chi Minh City into a pedestrian-only precinct in the evening.
District 1 officials met with some of these businesses last Friday to discuss the plan, which was penciled in several years ago but has never been finalized since. 
Le Tan Dat, chairman of Pham Ngu Lao Ward, said the plan is to turn De Tham, Bui Vien and Do Quang Dau, the main streets of the area, into walking streets. Bui Vien, lined with eateries, pubs and shops, will be the first pedestrian street in the initial one-year phase. 
Under the plan, vehicles will be banned from entering the streets from 7 p.m. until midnight.
Nguyen Duc Minh Tri, director of South Asia Travel, the plan is quite feasible.
Once the area is pedestrian-only, it will be an ideal place for tourists, he said. 
“What concerns me the most is security and how to protect tourists,” he said.
He said authorities should also pay attention to zoning, food safety and price stability.
Trinh Nguyen Hung Dung, director of TNK Travel, said the local government should call for private investment in the project, and send travel companies and service providers to some countries in Southeast Asia to learn from their tourist streets.
Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, deputy chairman of District 1 People’s Committee, said District 1 and the Department of Tourism will meet again this week to discuss the plan in details.
The backpackers' area attracts thousands of foreigners each day with its relatively exciting nightlife. Most of shops in the area open around the clock.

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