Vietnam needs to clean up its act, pronto

By Minh Nga   June 19, 2018 | 07:57 pm PT
Vietnam needs to clean up its act, pronto
Trash float in part of Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Cuong
Consider banning environmentally-unfriendly items, expert says.

Beaches in the country are being trashed at an alarming rate, and Vietnam should seriously consider banning the use of styrofoam and single use plastic, a hospitality expert says.

Trilok Narain, who has decades of international experience in senior positions in the hospitality industry, particularly in Southeast Asia, told VnExpress International that talk about bans on substances harmful to the environment had gained urgency in recent years.

For instance, he said, many hotel brands in Thailand, a leading tourism destination in Southeast Asia, have stopped using plastic drinking straws, single use plastic shampoo, conditioner and bath gel miniature bottles.

“Beach tourism is a big draw for tourism worldwide. Hotel and tourism operators need to make environmental sustainability part of their daily routine and raise awareness among all stakeholders, including owners, management, staff, vendors and customers,” Narain said.

Environmentally-friendly steps are also good for tourism, he stressed, adding that more and more tourists were conscientious and would respond positively.

Narain was responding to news from Vietnam that in just one hour, volunteers had collected 741 kilos of waste from just 250 meters along two beaches on Ha Long Bay, one of the most visited tourism destinations in the country.

He noted that the Philippines had closed the resort island of Boracay, one of the nation’s major tourism destinations, for six months beginning this April, in order to rehabilitate its environment.

At Ha Long Bay, 70 percent of the trash, collected from the Coc Cheo and Ang Du beaches, was styrofoam and the rest were plastic bags and bottles, food packaging, fishing net and clothing.

Volunteers collect trash along the beach of Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of To Quoc newspaper

Volunteers collect trash along the beach of Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of To Quoc newspaper

The trash was collected in a campaign initiated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), gathering 100 volunteers from cruise ship operators, travel agencies and other non-governmental organizations in the country, on June 16.

Pollution is not a new issue in Ha Long Bay.

The bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, has been dealing with overload of trash for years, with its docks usually littered with garbage, engine oil and even dead animals.

The bay has been hailed by the U.S. travel guide site Smarter Travel as one of the best ecological spots in the world, while Business Insider said that an overnight Ha Long cruise trip is a “must-try” travel experience in Asia.

Quang Ninh Province welcomed 6.5 million visitors in the first five months, up 26 percent against the same period last year, according to the province’s official data.

Of the figure, 2.17 million were foreigners, up 12 percent.

The bad news is tourism boom often means pollution threats for the world natural wonder, as shown in this video.

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