Vietnam’s rush to develop risks damaging its natural attractions

New resorts, cable cars and casinos threaten unspoiled landscapes as tourism sector struggles to balance modernisation and development with conservation

Fred Trinh sometimes closes his eyes and pictures the lane that drew him to Phu Quoc in 2011 – a double row of palm trees, barely concealing the sea, meandering down a red dirt road. But the 39-year-old Vietnamese-Canadian businessman opens his eyes again and reality crashes in. He can barely see that road through the shantytown of migrant workers drawn to the island’s reckless resort boom.

“The first time I came back, I marvelled at its coastlines and just how beautiful, raw and natural it was,” Trinh says of the island in the Gulf of Thailand. “Now bulldozers are cutting up this raw beauty to make it into something more recognisable to tourists – familiar global hotel chains and resorts.”

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