|Côn Đảo National Park. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Côn Đảo archipelago, off the coast of southern province Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, are set to become a world-class site for marine, cultural, historical and spiritual tourism, according to a revised plan for Côn Đảo development by 2045 newly approved by Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành.
The plan has been revised to better boost tourism on the island, protect and promote its historic relics and preserve the ecosystem of Côn Đảo National Park.
Under the plan, the island’s population will reach 15,000 by 2030 and 25,000 by 2045. Côn Đảo comprises 16 islands over 75 square kilometres and has a population of 10,500 who live only on Côn Sơn, the biggest island.
The archipelago of Côn Đảo is located 180km from Vũng Tàu City and about 230km southeast of HCM City. It has a land area of nearly 6,000ha and water surface of 14,000ha.
It is well known for beaches with white sand, deep blue water and colourful coral reefs. French colonialists and the Americans turned the island into a prison to jail Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers in wartime. The facility has attracted many local and foreign visitors in recent years.
The national park is home to 1,077 species of vascular plants and 155 species of fauna. Many bird species in Côn Đảo cannot be found anywhere else in Việt Nam, such as the red-billed tropicbird, masked booby, and pied imperial pigeon.
Côn Đảo National Park, a Ramsar site of wetlands of international importance, has more than 340 species and is one of the country’s richest and most diverse coral reefs.
The revised planning for the development of Côn Đảo aims to meet new requirements in the socio-economic development strategy of HCM City and Bà Rịa –Vũng Tàu Province.
The planning is also expected to create feasible conditions for implementing solutions to solve problems in population development and tourism with the requirements of preserving historical and cultural relics, protecting natural resources and ecology and ensuring national security.
Under the planning, Côn Đảo is expected to become a branded, highly competitive tourist area imbued with historical and cultural characteristics associated with green and smart urban areas.
As Côn Đảo has a limited land fund, land for construction and development of residential and tourist areas needs to be considered for effective exploitation.
Under the new plan, Côn Đảo’s population, land and tourism shall be forecast based on land fund assessment, technical infrastructure conditions and requirements for environmental protection and sustainable development.
Specific analysis, evaluation and forecast of population, tourist and construction land in each period will be studied and proposed during the development phase.
The adjustment of the general planning for Côn Đảo includes key measures, including an overall review of the approved general planning; reviewing projects that have been formulated and approved; and developing orientation land use planning and technical and social infrastructure.
Further studies about the residential- tourism structure are also needed to create a basis for proposals on spatial development, land use and technical infrastructure.
In 2019, the island welcomed 400,000 tourists, up 37 per cent year-on-year.
The Vietnam Air Services Company, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, and the FLC Group’s Bamboo Airways are the only two carriers operating regular flights to the island.
The Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu People’s Committee has approved a plan for the development of eco-tourism and leisure tourism in Côn Đảo National Park until 2030, according to Trần Đình Huệ, deputy director of the park’s management authority.
Since then, more than 60 eco-tourism projects have been given in-principle approval and are looking for investors.
The plan strictly stipulates that the principle of leasing the forest environment is not to change the State’s ownership of the forest; organising eco-tourism must not negatively affect natural ecosystems, biodiversity, landscapes, environment, and natural life of wild animals and plants as well as the cultural identity of the local community.
Nguyễn Chí Thành, Director of the Research Center for Forests and Wetlands under Việt Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations, said that Côn Đảo was a national tourist area with forests and sea being the main resources.
“The forest and the sea are under the management of Côn Đảo National Park, so it is certain that the park must develop tourism. That is the task,” Thành said.
“The tourism development also aims at a big goal of developing the forest economy. As we must not infringe on and affect the forest, the only way to develop the forest economy here is to develop tourism.”
Phạm Thị Na, Deputy Director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that some forest owners were currently providing tourism services. However, due to their limited investment and lack of expertise, the work’s efficiency was not high.
“Projects that use forest environment services to develop eco-tourism have been approved by the province but have yet to be implemented because this is a new policy, “she said. — VNS