northern province of Quang Ninh is taking drastic measures
against tourist boats in Halong Bay to keep the world's
natural heritage site from being spoiled by environmental
pollution, a provincial leader said on Monday.
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 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,"
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