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Unnatural wonder: Public backlash over $9 mln archway into Vietnam's Ha Long Bay

By Minh Cuong   April 28, 2017 | 03:42 pm GMT+7

The work was inspired by the marvelous bay, but many people have cringed at it.

Vietnam's northern province of Quang Ninh has unveiled an iron archway that cost VND198 billion (nearly $9 million) to welcome tourists as they arrive in the world-renowned Ha Long Bay. Initial public responses have been less than enthusiastic.

The archway, which rises up to form the shape of an uneven mountain, has drawn hundreds of comments on social media that are anything but complimentary.

The archway stands around 40 meters (130 feet) tall on a national highway.

A Vietnamese construction company started work on the project in March 2016, and is going to add stalls for travelers to stop off at and to promote tourism in the province.

Authorities opened the gate on Thursday in anticipation of a heavy inflow of tourists this weekend, when Vietnamese will have a four-day break through May 2 to mark the April 30 Reunification Day and Labor Day.

They said the archway was inspired by the image of Ha Long Bay, the most popular destination in the province that has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its breathtaking beauty.

However, the words “ugly” and “unnecessary” have dominated public feedback, with residents saying the province doesn't need another tourist attraction.

Some people compared the construction to an unroofed factory, while one even called it a mouse trap.

Members of the public said the gate was a waste of money because it does not have any real social value. Quang Ninh could have invested in more practical projects such as fixing roads and building bridges in remote areas, they said.

Just a few days earlier, the province completed a $1.5-million clock tower that also drew more jeers than cheers.