Vietnam’s Cat Ba archipelago faces threats from mammoth tourism project

The construction of a megaresort has been initiated in a popular archipelago off the northern Vietnamese city of Hai Phong, mounting pressure on the local environment recognized as the world’s biosphere reserve

A model of the megaresort upon completion in Cat Ba Archipelago off the northern city of Hai Phong

The Cat Ba ecotourism resort and entertainment complex in the namesake archipelago, developed by Vietnamese conglomerate Sun Group, was kick-started on Saturday, with total investment estimated at US$3 billion.

The project began with the construction of a seaport and station of an over-the-sea cable car system, 21km long, connecting Cat Hai and Cat Ba Towns. 

The third terminal of the cable car is expected to be located near the administrative center of the Cat Ba National Park on the main island.

Aside from the transportation system, the project will also include three golf courses, an amusement park, and several components to leverage the tourism potential of local areas such as Qua Vang Cave, Lan Ha Bay, Viet Hai Village, and Cat Ong Island.

A clam farm, previously owned by residents in Cat Ba Archipelago, has been backfilled for the construction of the massive resort. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Le Khac Nam, vice-chairman of the Hai Phong People’s Committee, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that local authorities and Sun Group had carried out multiple surveys and pooled feedback before laying out a plan for the project.

The building of the cable car as well as other constructions will only take place in the outer areas and along the coast, Nam said, claiming that it would not affect the Cat Ba biosphere reserve, which has always been strictly protected.

The resort complex plays a very essential role in developing tourism on Cat Ba, the official elaborated.

“Upon completion, the project will surely transform Cat Ba into a world-class tourist destination,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hoang Van Thap, director of the Cat Ba National Park, affirmed that he had not been asked to give any advice on the construction.

Thap added he had not been aware that some structures would be built within the park, where many rare animal and plant species are being protected.

A map showing the ecotourism project in Cat Ba Archipelago. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Developing tourism in the area requires careful consideration by competent agencies to ensure that the wildlife habitat will not be subject to any damage, Thap asserted.

Local conservationists are concerned that the Cat Ba langur species, the most endangered species in Vietnam being protected at the national park, would face multiple threats.

As of April, only 56 langurs had been recorded on Cat Ba.

According to Tran Thanh Liem, vice-chairman of the People’s Committee in Dong Bai Commune, Cat Hai District, among the 720 hectares of land needed to implement the project, 500 hectares is located in Dong Bai.

Two out of three villages in the commune have been relocated in order for the construction to take place, Liem said.

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