Vietnamese authorities in the country’s capital have ordered the temporary closure of one of the city’s most popular attractions, a 300-meter stretch of railway line bordered by restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Officials in Hanoi’s downtown Hoan Kiem district announced the move, blaming safety violations raised by the national railway, and stated all shops in the area have to close in the next three days. It was not immediately clear how long the closure would last.
The controversy is the latest twist in the uncertain life of a landmark that has faced repeated threats due to clashes between the local government and small businesses. It is also a sign of the Southeast Asian country’s cautious embrace of foreign visitors as regional neighbors rush to rebuild tourism industries destroyed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Popularly known as the Hanoi Train street, first attracted the ire of the municipal government in 2019. Tourists who typically throng the street taking selfies or seeking to catch the glimpse of a train passing just in front of them were blocked by barricades erected by the authorities and a deadline was set to close the cafes surrounding the track due to safety concerns. The Vietnamese authorities eased their crackdown after a backlash from local businesses which said that tourism revenue would suffer because of the decision.
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