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Former Deputy PM Vu Khoan expressed his concern over environmental pollution in and the encroachment of concrete works into Ha Long Bay at an international seminar held in Quang Ninh on July 24, which attracted over 150 foreign and Vietnamese scientists and managers.
Khoan suggested measures to preserve the nature and landscape of the bay: Banning construction activities in and around the bay, even in the Cai Lan Port; gradually removing works that can cause pollution; reducing population density in Ha Long city; and linking Ha Long with neighboring areas like Cat Ba and Bai Tu Long islands.

Former Vice chief of the Vietnam National Administration Tourism (VNAT), Mr. Pham Tu, worried about pollution in the bay.

“If the bay is polluted, tourists will go away and the bay will die. With only 10 percent of the total ships operating in the bay do not have equipment to process waste, the bay environment will be still harmed,” Tu said.

Tu added that it is necessary to restrict construction activities around the bay and ban construction in island.

Deputy Director of the Institute for Tourism Research and Development, Mr. Pham Trung Luong, pointed out that the environment in Ha Long bay is affected by coal mining, urban development, aquaculture and tourism development.

Luong pointed out that unorganized tourism development is a threat to the bay. He cited the building of the road from the mainland to Tuan Chau Island as a typical example. This road is similar as a dike in the sea, which hinders the flow and enhances environment in the bay.

General Director of the Tuan Chau Group, Dao Hong Tuyen, said the group would build a bridge in the next 1-2 years to replace the current road.

Tuyen said that there are more than 500 tourist boats in Ha Long bay and over 98 percent of them are wood boats, which are not very safe.
“Wood boats consume a lot of fuel and discharge big volume of exhaust fumes to the environment. Many beaches in the bay are polluted by oil and visitors cannot have baths there,” Tuyen added.

Ms. Katherine Muller Marin, chief representative of UNESCO in Vietnam, said that the impacts of development activities on the environment of Ha Long Bay are clear. Anyone can see waste and oil on the water surface and on the coast.

She said her office had received many letters of tourists who expressed their concerns over the environment in Ha Long. Some of them suggested solutions like setting up an environment protection fund or calling for tourists to join hands to clean up the bay.
 
Muller said Vietnam needs to have plans and measures to manage tourism to protect heritages. The World Heritage Committee has released recommendations on the preservation of Ha Long Bay.
 
Director of the Institute for Urban and Rural Architecture and Planning, Mr. Ngo Trung Hai, said that Quang Ninh should not license projects that are harmful for the environment.
He suggested that Quang Ninh should further invest in infrastructure facilities and encourage locals to invest in tourism.
 
Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary Pham Minh Chinh said that the province is striving to turn Ha Long into a tourist center of Vietnam. Preserving this natural heritage is the responsibility of all Vietnamese and each tourist to the bay, not only Quang Ninh people, he emphasized.
 
According to reports from Quang Ninh province, Ha Long Bay receives an average of 2.5 million visitors each year, including one million foreigners. In recent years, Ha Long Bay and the surrounding areas have recently attracted over 40 foreign investment projects with total capital of more than US$1 billion