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Experts oppose staging MGI pageant inside cave

Update: March, 22/2017 - 20:12
Note from the underground: Pristine beauty of a cave in Tú Làn karst grotto system in Quảng Bình Province. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Châu Á
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG BÌNH — Experts in the country have opposed a proposal to set up a stage for Miss Grand International (MGI) inside a cave located in Quảng Bình Province’s heritage site.

Việt Nam is hosting MGI 2017, and as part of the event, programmes will be held in central Quảng Bình Province, southern Kiên Giang Province and HCM City.

Paradise (Thiên Đường) Cave has been selected as the venue for the national costume contest, which will be held from October 15 to 19. Under the plan, a stage will be set up inside the grotto, which means technical crews, audience, jury members and contestants will be present inside the cave, all at the same time.

The idea was supported by local authorities in the central province, who expect that the presence of international media and broadcasters will help spread awareness about the cave globally. This, in turn, will draw the attention of tourists worldwide to the site.

However, the grotto is part of the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, which is a heritage site governed by UNESCO commitments, and the scheme has been opposed by heritage and geological experts.

Đỗ Văn Trụ, general secretary of the Việt Nam Heritage Association, said he disagreed with the scheme, adding that the site could lose its UNESCO title if the stage set up inside grotto violated the organisation’s conventions.

“Furthermore, this will create precedence, and others could demand the same,” he said.

“Stalactites and stalagmites in the grotto will be destroyed by the change of temperature, light, and pressure from staging and performing processes.”

Tạ Hòa Phương, a karst cave specialist from Hà Nội National University, said the grotto structure is fragile and the presence of an estimated hundreds of people inside at the same time would damage the structure.

“Tourism activities have damaged the cave as some places inside the grotto have developed cracks and moss has appeared under unnatural circumstances on the wall,” Phương added. “The damage cannot be fixed, ever.”

Phương said local authorities’ assumption that MGI 2017 would serve as promotion for the cave was incorrect, saying tourists highly value adventure tourism at sites such as these and would disapprove of MGI being staged inside the cave.

Hồ An Phong, director of Quảng Bình Department of Tourism, however, defended the plan, saying the cave is already equipped with 189 wooden ladder steps that can accommodate 1,500 people at the same time, with no possibility of touching the stalactites and stalagmites.

Phong did not refer to the possible impact from the scaffolding structures required for stages, light, filming and sound crews.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports has yet to approve the proposal. Ministry spokesperson Nguyễn Thái Bình said applications required for staging MGI 2017 in the grotto have not been fulfilled for submission to the ministry.

This was an idea mooted by MGI and Quảng Bình authorities, he said.

The people, meanwhile, are wondering the true motive for staging MGI inside the cave, as Quảng Bình’s grottos are already famous globally thanks to Sơn Đoòng, the world’s largest cave, and the debut of Hollywood movie Kong: Skull Island, which was partly filmed near the caves. — VNS

Miraculous colours: Fragile beauty of Paradise Cave in central Quảng Bình Province. — VNS Photo Vĩnh Bảo Huy

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