Building A Golf Paradise in Vietnam
Golf is often dubbed as the sport of the rich and privileged. That’s why a recent New York Times article took me by surprise, stating that there is a “proliferation” of golf courses in Vietnam. Apparently Vietnam is to construct over 140 golf courses across the country. This number closely approaches the almost 200 golf courses in South Korea. For a country that has only 5,000 estimated golfers today and only 2 courses at the end of 1975, such growth in golf course construction is to target tourism.
The construction of every golf course displaces 3,000 local residents, most often poor farmers in Vietnam. Maintenance of golf courses also puts a strain on local water supplies and reduces available farmland to grow stable crops like rice.
Tourism is arguably good for the local economy because it creates new business opportunities for residents and pumps money into the economy. On the other hand, tourism can dramatically alter a place’s culture and its people’s way of life. Or worse, tourism can uproot families and displace the poor and vulnerable. So where do we draw the line? Can tourism development be good for Vietnam?
As somewhat of a traveler my self, I would avoid going to places that are “too touristy” because I value the authenticity and rawness of each place. I like to try to blend in with the locals and experience their lives. When I travel to Vietnam, this comes naturally to me because I’m not distracted by fancy resorts and souvenir shops lining the streets. If tourism development is done right, it can be beneficial to be Vietnam. But I sure hope all this building won’t replace the “real” Vietnam that I adore.