An international conference aimed at sustainable development of Ha Long Bay took place in Ha Long City in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh on
Entitled Developing and Promoting the Values of World's Natural Heritage Ha Long Bay – New Vision, the event was hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The conference also noted disadvantages and challenges that strategists may face in seeking suitable solutions.
More than 150 researchers, and environmental and tourism experts attended the event.
Speaking at the conference, Cultural Minister Hoang Tuan Anh said the increasing number of tourists visiting Ha Long Bay created significant challenges in preserving and developing the country's most famous tourist attraction.
"Any preservation solutions based on tourism development will be encouraged," he said.
The provincial Party Committee's Secretary Tran Minh Chinh said tourism development of Ha Long Bay was crucial to the province's sustainable economy, thus the "development should connect tightly with environment protection," he said.
The nation's Development Strategy 2020 and Vision 2030 has identified Ha Long Bay as attracting millions of domestic and international tourists each year.
Therefore, Quang Ninh has set four main goals, including to locate the development of Ha Long Bay within a national and global context, to develop the tourism trademark of Ha Long Bay to keep it the No1 attraction, to promote it effectively in connection with environmental protection and to raise the awareness of local people and tourists of environmental protection.
Most of the participants shared the same opinion about the beauty of the World's Natural Heritage site. However, how to develop tourism effectively without negative influences on the environment was a significant issue.
Many thought the awareness of the environment was limited in local people working in the tourism field; tourism and souvenir products lacked diversity; investment, preservation and development did not befit a World's Natural Heritage site.
UNESCO chief representative in Viet Nam Katherine Muller-Marin suggested the authority urgently control the waste from ships on the bay, otherwise the pollution would affect the marine area and beaches of Cat Ba National Park.
To use a human force to collect rubbish on the bay was not an effective method to protect the environment, Muller-Marin said.
An average 2.5 million tourists, including 1 million foreigners, visited Ha Long Bay every year. Ha Long Bay and some other neighbouring areas in recent years had attracted more than 40 foreign investment projects with a total capital of more than $1 billion.
Significant capital had been invested by numerous domestic and foreign enterprises to develope Ha Long tourism products.
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