The People's Committee of the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien Hue has instructed Hue, the former imperial citadel, to take immediate steps to preserve its 150 ancient garden houses as part of preservation project.
Phan Ngoc Tho, deputy chairman of the committee, was quoted by Tuoi Tre newspaper as saying it is urgent and necessary to protect and preserve the garden houses in their original form, which is a ruong -- an ancient wooden house typically found in Hue -- surrounded by a large garden.
Most of the houses, a cultural attraction in the world heritage town, closed in the past five years with the owners saying they were tired of preserving them without getting paid.
They could not keep receiving visitors, putting on smart clothes, serving them drinks, and answering hundreds of questions like tour guides, without any payment, they said.
"We will make adjustments and changes to convince the owners the project is beneficial to their houses," Tho said without clarifying about the financial aspect.
"Hue's garden houses will be well- preserved and promoted only if the owners are willing to preserve and open the sites to visitors," he said, adding that the local government would also send officials to check more houses.
The preservation project was started in 2006 but the province only decided to earmark funds for it in 2010.
Without funding and support from authorities, only 52 garden houses remain in their original form.