The battered town of Quang Tri, northern South Vietnam, is a new site on the tourist circuit.
The battered town of Quang Tri, northern South Vietnam, is a new site on the tourist circuit. Air Vietnam is currently offering weekend package tours to interested tourists, and the response has been encouraging.
For 80 US dollars (GBP33 sterling), tourists can wander through the rubble to gaze at the broken shell of the La Vang Basilica - a building that was once one of the most beautiful in South Vietnam
Quang Tri was razed by the giant American B-52 bombers after the North Vietnamese temporarily occupied it two years ago. It's the biggest South Vietnamese town completely levelled in the war, and is now the site of the clearest ceasefire line between the Government and the Viet Cong.
Tropical vegetation is reclaiming the site of town where 30,000 people used to live and thousands of others poured through during the 1972 Communist offensive. On the Thach Han river, red and yellow flags of the Saigon Government flutter over piles of smashed masonry and dug-outs. A summer silence reigns, except when loudspeakers on one side or the other blare out music and slogans.
Even though Quang Tri is in the far north, bordering on North Vietnam, it's a good place for a battlefield package tour. It's one of the most devastated parts of South Vietnam, but something like peace has prevailed there for 15 months The majority of the weekend trippers who've taken the tours have been American, some from the United States Embassy in Saigon.
The tone of the package holiday is set by the brochures. "Visit the historic battlefields of Quang Tri", they say. "See with you own eyes how much Vietnam has suffered through more than 25 year of war and yet still survived".