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Concern raised over dining service in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay

Thursday, September 01, 2016, 12:58 GMT+7

A number of entertainment activities, including dining and partying, have begun to spring up in Ha Long Bay recently.

The services have been promoted on social media as a “unique” experience for tourists as they can enjoy joyful dinners and parties in the cave of Ha Long Bay, the UNESCO-recognized heritage in Quang Ninh Province.

Expensive experience

A well-known website on Vietnamese cuisine and tourism recently introduced the entertainment activities which allow visitors to celebrate their holiday nights in Ha Long Bay’s caves.

According to the advertisement, some boats have provided this service for a group of around 20 to 60 people at an expensive price.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter disguised himself as a traveler and tried to contact a service provider there.

The price for a group of 10 people is VND30 million (US$ 1,344), in which each visitor pays VND3 million ($135) for a full service including cave renting fees, decoration and food, a consultant said.

The night, which takes place in either Hang Trong (Drum Cave), Hang Ho Dong Tien (Ho Dong Tien Cave), Hang Thay (Thay Cave), or Hang Thien Canh Son (Thien Canh Son Cave), often starts at 7:30 pm and ends before 11:00 pm.

Additional charges will be applied to customers who want to stay longer.

However, they are required to go back to the boat to sleep.

The price to rent a boat for two days and one night is VND39 million ($ 1,748), the consultant added.

Negative impacts

According to Pham Thuy Duong, former head of the Ha Long Bay management board, some tour providers have offered the service to their VIP customers.

“They organized small-scale parties with only a few tables. Food was prepared in advance and brought to the cave. Trash was immediately cleared after each party,” she said, adding that no impacts were left on the place.

But things have gradually changed as the parties are growing in terms of scale and frequency.

A number of photos recently posted on a website showed that a party now features up to dozens of tables and hundreds of eaters, leading to environmental concern.

In a short interview with Tuoi Tre, Do Kha, a local photographer who has spent over 60 years taking pictures of the world-renowned bay, said that he objects to partying in the cave.

“Ha Long Bay is an original natural heritage site where people come to admire its pure beauty. Dining activities should be conducted on the boat as food stains could destroy the rocks inside the bay,” Kha explained.

On Sunday Ho Quang Huy, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Ha Long City, confirmed that such a situation has existed for years.

Two destinations including Hang Trong and Dong Tien Lake are expected to become a service and entertainment area based on a decision by the People's Committee of Quang Ninh Province last year.

“We are going to review the legal basis and business conditions of the companies which offer dining services in the cave,” Huy said, adding that any violations will be handled in accordance with current regulations and the city will also stop activities that harm the environment.

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