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ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM

Ha Long Bay: A Wonder of Nature

07 July 2010 | 11:55:00 AM

Fifteen years ago, on December 17, 1994, Ha Long Bay was recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.

 

Ha Long Bay
At this time The New Seven Wonders Foundation is taking a global poll seeking votes for the world’s Seven Wonders of Nature, and Ha Long is one of the finalists. The voting will continue until 2011. One of Vietnam Economic News reporters spoke with Nguyen Van Hung, the chief of the Ha Long Bay Management Department.

Fifteen years ago, on December 17, 1994, Ha Long Bay was recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. At this time The New Seven Wonders Foundation is taking a global poll seeking votes for the world’s Seven Wonders of Nature, and Ha Long is one of the finalists. The voting will continue until 2011. One of Vietnam Economic News reporters spoke with Nguyen Van Hung, the chief of the Ha Long Bay Management Department.
Ha Long Bay has been a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site for 15 years now. How has this changed Ha Long Bay?
Since Ha Long Bay was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site, public awareness has been raised. Many people now believe that Ha Long Bay has great value and should be protected. Therefore, conservation measures have been planned and taken to protect Ha Long Bay.
Tourism is expanding in Vietnam, particularly with regards to tourism investment capital. Before Ha Long was recognized as a World Natural Heritage site, perhaps 100,000-200,000 tourists visited Ha Long Bay each year. Since this recognition, the Vietnamese Government has declared that Ha Long Bay, and actually all of Quang Ninh province, is a national tourism center. In 2008, 2.6 million tourists visited Ha Long Bay, and they spent
about VND2.4 trillion. We hope that tourism revenue in Ha Long Bay will reach VND3 trillion in 2009.
What about environmental protection? What have travel agencies and local people done to protect the environment of Ha Long Bay?
As is the case now throughout Vietnam, pollution is a very serious problem. Quang Ninh province is no exception. The Quang Ninh Peoples Committee and other authorities have stated that they have solutions for this problem. Coal processing factories have been moved out of the bay area and large amounts of coal can no longer be transported across the bay. Businesses are now required to treat their waste, as they are everywhere in Vietnam. In addition, local people and tourists are being made more aware of the need for environmental protection. Garbage is now being collected in the bay area but, because this is a rather open sea area, this is difficult to monitor. As we tell each other, you must try your best, and this is what we are doing to protect the environment of Ha Long Bay.
Your past achievements have been many and great, but what about the future? What are your plans?
 
Economic growth has followed recognition of Ha Long Bay as a World Natural Heritage site but in addition were are concerned about the creation of jobs for local people. We think of Ha Long Bay as a center of co-operation and a provincial and regional focus of investment attraction. I believe that we need to teach local inhabitants how to better welcome and serve tourists, and we need new services and products that will attract more tourists and entice them to stay a bit longer.
People can now vote for Ha Long to become one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature. Please tell our readers how they can cast their vote for Ha Long Bay?
There is not much time to vote - more than one year. People from around the world can vote to choose the seven wonders from among the twenty-eight finalists. We are attempting to present a positive image of Ha Long Bay. We believe that Ha Long Bay would be one of the New Seven Wonders because of its scientific and geological value and its unique topography. The voting ends in 2011 and at that time the winners will be announced. Unfortunately, the interface of the voting website has changed a number of times and people in other countries cant see the true beauty of Ha Long Bay. To get Ha Long Bay chosen as one of the world’s seven wonders of nature, we need to get our propaganda machine rolling and reach not only people within Vietnam but also those all over the world.We also need to let everyone know exactly how they can cast their vote for Ha Long Bay. In the meantime we should continue to protect and maintain the bay. Anyone with Internet access can just log onto the website of the foundation and vote. Its that easy. At some point during the voting process, the New Open World will come to evaluate Ha Long Bay. I would like to stress that Ha Long Bay could become one of the world’s seven wonders of nature based entirely on the number of votes which are cast. We need to get the media involved and get everyone - Vietnamese citizens, overseas Vietnamese people and foreign tourists - to vote for Ha Long Bay.
Thanh Tam
 

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