|The entrance to En Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park|
Thuat said Quang Binh can develop tourism with its forests, beaches, heritage sites and especially Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park as a UNESCO-recognized World Natural Heritage site. The national park includes many caves and a diverse ecosystem over an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers.
According to a Government resolution and the Tourism Law, the province is eligible to develop tourism into a key economic sector, Thuat said at an NA discussion on October 31.
However, the province has faced numerous obstacles to boost tourism development, including a plan to develop a cable car system for Phong Nha-Ke Bang having been rejected.
Though some people worry that the cable car project would affect the environment in the national park, such a project should be allowed to effectively tap tourism potential and put natural resources to good use, Thuat said.
Quang Binh Province’s government expects the support of the central Government, relevant ministries and agencies, scientists and the press in promoting the value of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Thuat insisted.
Deputy Lai Xuan Mon of Bac Lieu Province said tourism is a key sector of the economy as the number of international tourists visiting the country has reached 10 million and may hit 13 million this year.
At a recent discussion on socio-economic development by National Assembly deputies, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said tourism development has helped raise the contribution of services including tourism to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The service sector has contributed 3.2 percentage points to the estimated GDP growth of 6.7%, higher than that of the construction sector, and is capable of offsetting a decline of revenue in the oil and gas sector, Hue said.
However, developing a cable car system in a national park like Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a controversial topic.
At a working session in Quang Binh in late August, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved in principle a proposal by the provincial government to develop a cable car system stretching 5.2 kilometers to En Cave in close proximity to Phong Nha-Ke Bang Caves.
However, many procedures will have to be done before the cable car project can be executed, especially a procedure to obtain consent from UNESCO.
In 2014, local investor Sun Group put forth a plan to develop a cable car system stretching 10.6 kilometers starting from the entrance of Phong Nha Cave to the rear entrance of Son Doong Cave. The plan faced stiff objections from scientists and the general public.
In early 2015, the Government approved the master plan for long-term development of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, demanding that the natural heritage site be maintained.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park welcomes around one million visitors a year.