Con Dao to charge entry fees to fund waste treatment

By Minh Nga   March 10, 2019 | 10:56 pm PT
Con Dao to charge entry fees to fund waste treatment
Con Dao Islands off Vietnam's southern coast wants to impose a fee on tourists to finance its waste treatment. Photo by Banh He
The Con Dao Archipelago, overwhelmed with garbage, plans to levy an entrance fee on all visitors to finance waste management.

Authorities in Con Dao, a 16-island archipelago off Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and the provincial tourism department have agreed on a plan to collect an entry fee from all tourists.

Trinh Hang, the department’s director, told local media that residents of Ba Ria-Vung Tau will be exempt from the fee.

The plan will be submitted soon to the provincial government, he said.

Con Dao already has admission charges for some of its destinations, including the national park and some historic sites, and the plan is to include all those in the entry fee.

Explaining the motivation for the plan, director Hang said Con Dao has lured more and more tourists in recent times, resulting in more waste.

Hang said the plan was not new and had been on the table for discussion since 2000. The province had decided not to follow up then, but it was high time that it did so now, he added.

"There are tourists who only visit the island for one day and but leave a certain amount of trash behind. Con Dao District does not earn anything from them. Those tourists need to be responsible for maintaining the island’s ecosystem," Hang was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying.

Provincial authorities had last month accepted Con Dao District's proposal to have trash taken to the mainland for treatment and disposal.

As of March last year, Con Dao had 70,000 tons of garbage stuck at its sole landfill. The archipelago’s largest island is the 52 square kilometers (20 square miles) Con Son, which is also the only one that is inhabited.

Over the past two decades, domestic waste on the island has been collected at a landfill that measures 3,800 square meters (4,544 square yards).

The landfill, which has only one incinerator, is overloaded and has only 300 square meters left for storing trash.

On average, the island generates 15 tons of trash a day, while at full capacity, the incinerator can only deal with five tons. As a result, trash, mostly plastic bags and bottles, has been piling up at the landfill.

Last year, Con Dao received more than 286,000 visitors, up 17.3 percent against 2017, including 32,000 foreign tourists.

Con Dao served as a prison for political prisoners during the French colonial era, and in later years, the U.S.-installed puppet regime in Saigon, which imprisoned in the infamous cells known as "tiger cages."

The old prison buildings still stand and are open to public viewing at a museum tracing Con Dao's history.

The islands also boasts pristine natural beauty with forested hills, sandy beaches and extensive coral reefs, and this is threatened by the waste problem.

Vietnam is the fourth-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution globally, according to a 2015 study by the University of Georgia.

The country discharges around 18,000 tons of plastic waste every day, according to the Da Nang Center for Consultancy on Sustainable Development in central Vietnam.

Cham and Be Islands in the region are two places in country that have banned the use of plastic. Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s biggest island, is also working with the World Wild Fund Vietnam to map out a plan to be plastic free by 2020.

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