Tourism revenue of Quang Binh Province in north-central Vietnam has reached VND179 billion (US$7.95 million) in 2015 thanks to the attraction of Son Doong Cave, local authorities said this week.
The number of visitors to Quang Binh has topped 2.86 million this year, of which foreign tourist arrivals are 46,900, an increase of 8.9 percent, officials from the People’s Committee announced on December 9.
Turnover from hotels and restaurants surged 19 percent to more than VND1.930 trillion ($85.77 billion).
The strongest growth was recorded in tourism, which increased up to 89.4 percent and hit VND179 billion.
Local authorities said such success was the result of the Son Doong Cave promotional campaign, especially after the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) aired a signature program featuring the grotto earlier this year.
In May, ABC broadcast live the show accentuating the astounding magnificence of Son Doong and En (Swallow) Caves on “Good Morning America,” a much-loved program watched by an average of six million subscribers every day.
The caves are secluded in the core area of the UNESCO-recognized Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, located in the north-central province of Quang Binh.
En Cave is around two kilometers from Son Doong.
The expedition to Son Doong Cave has become a choice of many tourists from around the world.
To reach Son Doong Cave, trekkers have to hike through two densely forested expanses which span from Truong Son Tay Road to En Cave, and from En Cave to Son Doong Cave.
The adventure tours are considered highly difficult, during which visitors will have to walk nearly 60km, not to mention other activities such as climbing, crossing the forest, and wading through the streams.
In 2014, there were 243 tourists visiting the cave. At the end of August this year, this number rose to 482, including 47 Vietnamese.
There are currently nearly 500 awaiting visitors who wish to explore Son Doong Cave, filling the 2016 tour schedule.
Other visitors will have to wait for their turn in 2017.
The “pearl” of Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Son Doong Cave, which has a large, fast-flowing underground river inside, was found by a local resident named Ho Khanh in 1991.
It became public after a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in April 2009.
According to the Limberts, Son Doong Cave is five times larger than Phong Nha Cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam.
The biggest chamber of Son Doong is more than five kilometers long, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide.
With such large dimensions, Son Doong overtook Deer Cave in Malaysia to become the world's largest grotto.
Hundreds of thrill seekers, mostly foreigners, are currently in line for an adventure expedition, which costs between US$3,000 and $6,000 each person, to the awe-inspiring cave.