Vietnam beach town suspends sea-encroaching tourism project

By Nguyen Khoa   October 15, 2019 | 07:31 pm PT
Vietnam beach town suspends sea-encroaching tourism project
Sea encroachment work to serve a tourism complex in Vung Tau. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Khoa.
Authorities in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province have suspended the construction of a sea-encroaching aquarium complex on Vung Tau beach.

In a decision signed Monday, the province's acting Chairman Nguyen Thanh Long tasked the provincial Department of Construction with requesting the project's investor to suspend construction works on the seaside, and to immediately cease embankment construction and land reclamation activities until further notice.

The department has also been instructed to work with the investor, Vung Tau Cable Car Tourism JSC, to review the project's legal documents, its impact on the surrounding area and on the tourism environment.

The sub-project to build the Hon Nguu cable car station and aquarium complex on Vung Tau's Bai Truoc (Front Beach) beach area is part of the company's Ho May Park tourism, cultural, entertainment and resort project.

The 6.7-hectare (17-acre) Hon Nguu complex, which plans to receive 3,000-5,000 visitors a day, would have encroached 200 meters (660 feet) into the sea for a total encroachment area of about three hectares.

It was to consist of a 22-storey five-star hotel, restaurants, sea sports facilities, an aquarium, a beach area and a manmade swimming pool.

The $50 million project was scheduled to be completed by 2023.

The history of the project goes way back to 1998 when Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province approved an urbanization plan for 22 hectares in the Bai Truoc area, of which 10 hectares were reserved for a tourism complex, including an aquarium.

In 2003, the province gave Vung Tau Cable Car Tourism JSC the rights to use more than 67,000 square meters of what is a special-use water surface area. The province allowed the company to take the land on a 50-year lease.

Last year, the province approved the Hon Nguu aquarium project, and earlier this year, its environmental impact assessment report. In August this year, the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department of Construction issued a construction permit.

However, the project's construction works over the past few days raised concerns among local residents that the project would disrupt the landscape and the view from the colonial-era Bach Dinh (White Palace), a historic mountainside villa built by the French and serving as a resort for Vietnam's last king Bao Dai and several presidents of the South Vietnam regime. It now exhibits antiques and functions as a tourist attraction.

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