Quang Ninh tough against travel boats to save Halong Bay Vietnam

Vice chairwoman of the province Nhu Thi Hong Lien told the Daily that the province has just issued a temporary ban on the building of new tourist boats for navigating on the bay, and would also tightly supervise operational boats there.

“We are in the process to reject old and low-quality boats to protect the environment,” lien told the Daily on the sidelines of a meeting in the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (hotels in Ho Chi Minh) to promote the province’s year of tourism festivals.

Halong Bay Vietnam covers 1,500 square kilometers with nearly 2,000 islands and islets, but just 10 islands of them are open for tourists’ sightseeing. Last year, around 3.6mil tourists came to the province, and most of them visited the world heritage site.

Currently, hundreds of boats are taking thousands of tourists on sightseeing tours on the bay each day, and some 100 boats are also catering to tourists who want to stay overnight on the bay.

However, most of the boats lack waste treatment facilities, which coupled with the exhaust fumes from these boats are putting environment on the bay at risk.

“We’ve seen the danger and decided to take steps for environment protection along with activities to promote the beauty of the bay,” Lien said.

From now on, those boats and ships chosen to cater to tourists’ demand to stay overnight on Halong Bay must be high-quality ones meeting three-star standard to make sure that they are safe for Halong Bay’s environment, she said.

“We want to develop this kind of the travel because it is attractive for tourists, especially for foreigners but we must be careful in adding new boats in the next time,” lien said.

The province is also planning other methods to protect Halong Bay’s environment.

“First, we will spend a big budget on environmental protection,” she said.

According to Lien, the budget will come from the provincial government, from the sales of tickets to visit Halong Bay, and from entrepreneurs.

“For example, we call on entrepreneurs to collect rubbish, and tourist boats on the bay must pay for environment fees,” she said.

Lien said that all activities are aimed to help achieve sustainable development for the tourism industry, now that Halong Bay Vietnam has been entered into a competition to be recognized as one of the world’s seven wonders of nature.

In the meeting on Monday, Quang Ninh Province announced Halong Tourism Festival 2008, which will take place from April 25 to May 1 this year.

The main activities of the festival will include the Carnival Festival, art and culture performances, a trade and tourism fair, a food festival, sport activities, and activities to call on more people to vote for Halong as one of the world’s seven wonders of nature.

These festivities will take place in Bai Chay Ferry wharf, Bai Chay Bridge, and Cua Luc Bay. Around ten cities from such countries as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and China will join art activities and the fair there.

The fair is expected to attract 200-300 booths of 150 companies.