Danang officials would like to cash in on the mystique of China Beach, or My Khe as it is called locally, by positioning the area as an escape from modern-day stress. The locale already has some touristy infrastructure in place: a beautiful beachfront, the nearby Marble Mountains, the tony Furama Resort and a Cham historic museum. Still, gritty Danang tends to be passed over by foreigners in favor of the nearby coastal cities of Hoi An and Hué. The latter's tourist industry is growing at twice the rate of Danang's.
The local government thinks it knows why: too many aggressive beggars on China Beach. The Danang People's Committee has launched a campaign urging residents to rat out any panhandlers they see, even setting up a 24-hour telephone hot line for snitching. Drop a dime about a raggedy man begging for change anywhere in the city and gain a reward of 200,000 dong (about $13). "Beggars are impolite, an annoyance to visitors," says Nguyen Hung Hiep, head of the Danang Social Benefit Bureau. "We want to keep our city beautiful and civilized."
Hiep says the hot line has logged 50 calls since January, resulting in 37 panhandlers being sent to rehabilitation centers for job training. But the homeless are adapting to the heat. They've started dressing better, disguising themselves as legitimate postcard sellers or even Buddhist monks. Many, however, have got the message, Hiep says, and have moved elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether foreigners will invade once again now that the panhandlers have lost their paradise at China Beach.