QUANG BINH — Quang Binh hopes to develop tourism as a result of the discovery of eight new caves in Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park, Deputy Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Ky has said.
|A boat heads to Toi Cave in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The British Cave Research Association last month found eight new caves, raising the number of newly found caves in the park to 15. — VNA/VNS Photo Ho Cau
Last month the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard Limbert, found eight new caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is home of Son Doong Cave, the largest in the world.
"All of the newly discovered are in nearly untouched condition," said Ho Khanh, a local explorer, who was part of the week-long British expedition.
Four of the eight have already been named.
One of the most remarkable discoveries was the Va Cave. According to Khanh, the cave is 1.7km deep, and located only 400m away from Son Doong. Another, while not as impressive for its depth, is remarkable for its beauty.
"It's not the scale of the caves in Son Doong that is most impressive, but their beauty. I've seen caves all over the world and these are extremely unique," Limbert told Viet Nam News through an email.
The seven other caves raised the number of newly-found caves to 15 this year.
It is the hope of local authorities that the newly-discovered caves will help in their development of tourism in Quang Binh Province. There is an expectation that there will be new discoveries in the near future.
"We hope that these and future discoveries will attract tourists. This will need investment, which we hope to get from private enterprises as well as tour companies who have a stake in developing new destinations. This will also offer new opportunities for locals," said Ky.
The province plans to continue promotion of known caves in tandem with that of newly-discovered ones.
"National Tourism Month will be this June. We will organise new trekking tours that will help visitors to discover more of the 1,500m of Phong Nha Cave," Ky added.
"One of the issues we face now is to promote this type of tourism while protecting the environment. The most important thing in this regard is to raise awareness of locals and visitors," he added.
|Eerie place: An explorer stands in Va Cave, among thousands of amazing stalagmites. The cave is one of eight newly discovered in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. — Photo courtesy of Howard Limbert
According to Dang Dong Ha, deputy director in charge of tourism of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, it could take time for the park to develop an effective and sustainable tourism strategy. In the meantime, she said, eco-tours would be allowed from the end of this month.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has commonly been called the "kingdom of caves". Since the 1920s, the area has been known for its cave systems.
It currently holds a number of world records, including "largest cave system" and "the area with the highest number of underground rivers".
Son Doong has long been recognised as the biggest cave in the world, according to National Geographic Magazine, which gave it a full spread in late 2010.
In May 2011, the provincial People's Committee organised a cave festival at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. — VNS