Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NINH – The northern province of Quảng Ninh is taking measures to ensure the safety of tourists when visiting the area, said Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Lê Quang Tùng.
Quảng Ninh is home to the UNESCO-recognised world natural heritage site, Hạ Long Bay.
Tùng made the announcement at a press conference, after a cruise ship caught fire in Hạ Long Bay earlier on Friday.
The ship, owned by VIT Tourism Limited Company, caught fire after arriving at Tuần Châu Port following a cruise on Hạ Long Bay.
All 37 tourists aboard, including 36 foreigners, were brought to shore safely after abandoning the burning ship.
Tùng said that following the fire, all boats belonging to the company have stopped operating until inspections have been completed.
He told reporters that to manage the tourist ship fleet on the bay, Quảng Ninh has created numerous regulations, especially after a ship sank in Hạ Long Bay in early 2011, claiming the lives of 12 foreign tourists.
The province recently issued a temporary regulation that allows wooden ships to operate in the bay for a maximum of 15 years, as opposed to the 25 years allowed in Decree 111/2014/ND-CP. The change was made for safety reasons, as this type of ship degrades more quickly in saltwater, as well as in Hạ Long Bay’s strong winds.
After the 15 year period, these ships can still operate outside the bay.
Passenger ships will soon be banned from staying overnight in Hạ Long and Bái Tử Long bays, provincial authorities said.
In the near future, only daytime travel will be allowed. Currently, there are 533 tourist ships operating across the two bays, 202 of which dock overnight, and 81 per cent being wooden ships.
However, Quảng Ninh is working to assure that no wooden ships operate in Hạ Long Bay by 2030. Quảng Ninh aims to welcome five million tourists to Hạ Long Bay by 2020, up from 2.2 million in 2015.
Hạ Long Bay, which spans 1,553sq.km and includes 1,969 islands of various sizes, was twice recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1994 and 2000.
In 2011, it outranked 261 other sites from around the world to be voted one of the seven New Natural Wonders of the World. The bay is an iconic destination for visitors to Quang Ninh, with its rich biodiversity, stunning beauty, and significant historical and cultural sites. — VNS