Beauty contest planned inside Vietnam’s famous Paradise Cave causes worry

By Tien Hung   March 21, 2017 | 06:59 pm PT
It’s not just another day in Paradise.

The central province of Quang Binh has planned to use its popular cave Thien Duong (Paradise) as the venue for a beauty contest, but the cave’s managers are concerned that the event will not do anything good for the cave.

The organizers of Miss Grand International 2017, one of the many lesser-known beauty pageants, and Quang Binh are considering having more than 80 contestants from around the world show off their national costumes inside the cave in October. The other option is a local resort.

Tran Tien Dung, vice chairman of Quang Binh, said the decision has not been made, but he said that the cave needs to be promoted.

“It will be the first time a beauty contest ever takes place inside a cave,” Dung said.

He said there will only be two problems: some tours to the cave will have to be rescheduled and the event will not attract a lot of onsite spectators.

Ho An Phong, director of Quang Binh’s tourism department, also promised that impacts on the cave, hailed as one of the most beautiful in the world, would be limited.

“The cave is capable of hosting more than 1,500 tourists at a time, while the beauty contest is expected to bring in just around 200 people,” he said.

“If we organize the event here, it will add a lot of value to Vietnam’s tourism,” Phong said.

But those who are taking care of the cave are deeply concerned.

Le Thanh Tinh, chief manager of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, said any human activities, irrespective of the scale, will change the cave’s natural environment.

Tinh said the beauty contest would involve a lot of lighting which, when combined with the crowd, will raise the heat inside the cave and damage the beautiful stalactites.

The noise alone could be also damaging, he said.

“It’s wrong to say there would be no impact. There are changes we can’t see now … It’s not like someone cracking a piece of stalactite and you notice it immediately.”

Paradise was named by a British Cave Research Association team, who explored it following a chance discovery by local man Ho Khanh in 2005.

The team called it the most beautiful cave in the world for its stalactite structures. They also said it is the longest dry cave in Asia, stretching 31.4 kilometers (19.5 miles).

Paradise opened to tourists in 2011, one of 300 different caves and grottos at the world famous Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh.

The park won UNESCO recognition in 2003 for having unique limestone structures and the oldest karst formation in Asia, dating back some 400 million years ago. Only some of the caves in the park are accessible to the public, including Paradise.

Quang Binh, which has garnered great publicity for showing up in the recent King Kong movie, is calling for investors to look into cable car projects around the Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park.

The province leaders in 2014 also pledged to build a $212-million gondola lift into the world’s largest cave Son Doong, and only backed down after receiving strong criticism from the public and the UNESCO.

Last year, travel companies also threw lavish parties inside caves in the world-famous Ha Long Bay, another UNESCO heritage in northern Vietnam. They managed to do that for months until the parties were exposed by local media, prompting local officials to order a ban.

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NatGeo names Vietnam’s cave, waterfall among top natural wonders

Vietnam province denies rumors of cable car construction in world’s largest cave

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