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Advancing green growth in the tourism sector:
 The case of Hue, Vietnam


Hue is a small but rapidly growing city in central Vietnam where tourism plays a key role in the city’s socioeconomic development, but also has negative impacts on its environment and natural resource base. For example, the goods and services associated with tourism, such as travel, infrastructure development and operation, and the production and consumption of goods, are energy-intensive.

The ‘Sustainable urban tourism through low carbon initiatives’ project, led by the Asian Institute of Technology, Chiang Mai Municipality and the Hue Centre for International Cooperation, explored how the carbon footprint of tourism could be reduced, while maintaining and even enhancing local development benefits. This brief, Advancing green growth in the tourism sector: The case of Hue, Vietnam, by Kyoko Kusakabe, Pujan Shrestha, S. Kumar and
 Khanh Linh Nguyen, explores the opportunities and trade-offs encountered by government agencies, residents and tourism-related businesses in the City of Hue as they navigated the choices available. It captures lessons learned from the project for the benefit of other cities facing similar options.

Key messages

  • Sustainable tourism development in the city of Hue, Vietnam is heavily influenced by the national government framework. This higher-level policy guidance was adapted to suit the city’s local conditions.
  • A participatory local process resulted in the idea of promoting ‘garden houses’ as a viable climate mitigation option, which would also enhance tourism. This has yielded a number of environmental, economic and cultural benefits for Hue.
  • Increasing green space via garden houses will also help to reduce the urban heat island effect, and act as a potentially useful adaptation to increasing heat stress.
  • Apart from the environmental benefits provided by garden houses, their promotion paved the way for leveraging other low carbon development initiatives such as the use of non-motorised transport.
  • The direction of Hue’s development highlights the importance of a vision for sustainable growth and more importantly, of a champion who will guide the city toward its vision.
  • This very positive local story nonetheless highlights some of the tensions and trade-offs around green tourism: namely, that local initiatives may address emissions in situ, but not the emissions produced by tourists as they travel to the locality.

This report is one of CDKN’s Inside stories on climate compatible development.

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