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Illegal resorts invade Vietnam's protected bay

By Minh Cuong   May 30, 2017 | 05:03 pm GMT+7
Illegal resorts invade Vietnam's protected bay
An aerial shot of Banh Sua Island in Bai Tu Long Bay. Photo courtesy of Ha Long Bay Management Board

Local media spotted several resorts in Bai Tu Long despite construction restrictions.

The northern province of Quang Ninh has ordered its inspectors to look into recent media reports that several resorts have been built in Bai Tu Long Bay, breaking conservation rules.

The bay, not far from its more famous sibling Ha Long, is home to hundreds of islands of various shapes and sizes. They were thought to be completely unhabited, until local media this month published images of what appear to be resorts and restaurants by the waters.

The province launched an inspection on Monday. A report is expected within three weeks.

Media reports showed that a resort with more than 30 rooms and a swimming pool have popped up on Nem Island. Four wooden villas, restaurants and a pier have also been built and protected by security guards.

Around 20 minutes of boat ride away, the six-hectare (15-acre) Banh Sua Island has also seen the rise of around 20 cabins for tourists. There are also signboards advertising different services from kayaking and cave tours to yoga.

Google Earth images retrieved by VnExpress International on Tuesday show a number of apparently man-made facilities on both these islands.

Some sources said there are also resorts on at least three other islands. A night in one of the resorts in the bay could cost up to VND1.5 million ($66) and tourists have to pay extra for other services, they said.

The news reports came shortly after Bai Tu Long National Park, established in 2001 as part of the bay, was recognized a Southeast Asian heritage park for meeting criteria of ecological intact, representative nature, high preservative manner, management planning, preservation and legal protection.

According to U.K.-based travel publisher Rough Guides, Bai Tu Long Bay promises views that are as breathtaking as what tourists can find in Ha Long, a UNESCO nature heritage.