Several houses built in a marine protected area in the south-central Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa are being used daily for tourism services, a violation of state law.
The houses were built illegally by the 388 Border Guard Office on Hon Mun Island, a strictly protected area located off the coast near the famous beach city of Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa.
Though provincial authorities have previously said the part of the island is reserved exclusively for defense and security purposes, a total of six houses covering some 540 square meters have been constructed near the local border guard station, in the heart of the Hon Mun national marine protection site.
According to the law on cultural heritage, the protected zone must have its original conditions preserved.
In December 2016, the border guard office violated the law and ended up being fined and ordered to cease construction.
The case was also reported to the provincial People’s Committee, though the facilities were eventually completed by the 388 Border Guard Office.
The houses serving tourists on Hon Mun Island. Photo: Tuoi Tre
According to Colonel Ho Thanh Tung, chief of the Khanh Hoa Border Guard, a superior body to the 388 Office, the houses were designed to accommodate visiting delegations from the Ministry of National Defense with business to conduct on the island.
The structures are also meant to provide a location for local border guards to gather for casual meetings, said Col. Tung.
“These houses will create favorable conditions for local officers to complete their mission of protecting the country’s maritime security,” he stated.
However, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters noticed on Thursday that all six houses were being used for business and tourism purposes, offering food and drinks for visitors on a daily basis.
According to an official from the Hon Mun Border Guard Office, these facilities welcome up hundreds of visitors, mainly Chinese tourists, everyday to rest, have a drink, or use the restroom inside the local border guard office.
Visitors buy drinks at one of the houses. Photo: Tuoi Tre