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DA NANG (VNS— Rapid modernisation and modern lifestyles are threatening the survival of the ancient Cham culture and other ethnic traditions in central Quang Nam Province, home to two UNESCO world heritage sites and a world biosphere reserve.
The subject was the main focus of a conference in the province yesterday.
The meeting was told that 337 physical relics, mostly buildings, and 120 cultural festivals were in danger of disappearing because of the increasing demands of economic development.
“It’s an alarming problem. The increase in population and mass migration have badly affected cultural relics,” said the deputy head of Hoi An City’s Culture and Information department, Tong Quoc Hung.
“Old craftsmen are gradually dying out, taking knowledge of many folk arts and crafts with them. Few of the younger generation show any interest in inheriting their skills and secrets.”
Hung also remarked on the move away from centuries-old traditional architecture in Hoi An City in recent years.
“Local people now prefer to revamp their old houses so that they reflect modern times. One of the reasons for this is the influx of new residents uninterested in or unaware of Hoi An’s precious links with the past,” he said.
Dong Giang District party secretary Nguyen Bang said the culture of the Co Tu ethnic mountain people had been affected by the intrusions of outside influences brought in by newcomers.
“Native customs and costumes are being taken over by modern lifestyles, education, economic development and culture,” he said.
Bang admitted that the collection and conservation of the ancient culture of local ethnic groups had never been seriously approached or evaluated.
“The native language and customs play a key role in ethnic socio-economic development. It’s also a precious treasure for the province in the future,” he said.
“The culture and custom of Co Tu ethnic minority should be included in the curriculum of high schools in the mountain districts of Dong Giang, Nam Giang and Tay Giang.”
Bang also said the Co Tu culture should be included for protection under the National Target Programme.
At a tourism market workshop last year, Lucy Russell, the editorial manager of QUO, a travel agency, said the province had great history, tradition, culture and environment, as well as two world heritage sites and the world biosphere reserve of the Cham Islands. She said this was ideal for promoting sustainable tourism.
UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have already provided some support for the promotion of craft-village tourism and world heritage sites
Last month, the province officially opened the My Son community tourism village near My Son Sanctuary – a World Heritage Site. This was one of the first steps towards boosting eco-tourism and sustainable tourism. — VNS