Ha Long Bay: Prized title, spectacular nature were not enough

11:15 | 20/12/2019 Travel

In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added Ha Long Bay in Vietnam’s northeastern province of Quang Ninh to its list of world heritage sites. However, even after gaining the coveted recognition of the spectacular seascape of limestone pillars, Quang Ninh Province was still known mostly for its coalmines. Major tourist development in the province only began 20 years later.

For years, Ha Long Bay was still the only major destination in the province, while Bai Chay beach, once a paradise for tourists, became polluted with wastewater and garbage, turning into a major health hazard.

ha long bay prized title spectacular nature were not enough
Giant Sun Wheel at the Sun World Ha Long Complex

While the UNESCO title helped draw more tourists, the beautiful marine bays, majestic limestone mountains and caves were not enough to keep them there longer. Expectations of Quang Ninh turning into an internationally known tourist destination were dashed by the fast development of other tourist attractions, such as Da Nang and Nha Trang in the southern central coastal region and Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.

Twenty years after it was recognized as a world heritage site, Quang Ninh began making changes with the cooperation of giant investors including the Sun Group, which has turned the polluted Bai Chay into a pristine white sand and is implementing a series of other tourist infrastructure projects.

ha long bay prized title spectacular nature were not enough
Ha Long International Cruise Port

It took strategic investors, especially the Sun Group, to awaken the abundant tourism potential of Quang Ninh. In June 2016, the Sun World Ha Long Complex opened its doors and its Queen's Cable Car and Giant Sun Wheel entered the Guinness Book of Records, taking visitors on a spectacular journey to discover Ha Long Bay and the city from above, bringing tourism there to a new height. Other projects soon followed, including the largest theme parks in Southeast Asia, water parks with dozens of top-class rides and other special tourist products.

The number of visitors to Quang Ninh increased from 7.5 million in 2014 to more than 12.2 million in 2018, with an average growth of 11 percent per year. Quang Ninh has become one of the largest tourist centers in the country, receiving more than 12.2 million tourist arrivals, including more than 5.2 million foreign visitors (accounting for one third of all foreign visitors to Vietnam) in 2018. In the first eight months of 2019, Quang Ninh welcomed 10.5 million visitors including 3.7 million foreign visitors.

ha long bay prized title spectacular nature were not enough
Van Don Airport

Apart from modern entertainment projects, high-class resorts and real estate projects, Sun Group built a series of giant infrastructure projects, bringing new vitality to Quang Ninh Province.

Van Don International Airport, Ha Long International Cruise Port, and Ha Long-Van Don Highway have created an ideal infrastructure system serving socioeconomic and tourism development in Quang Ninh. They have also helped attract other leading tourism investors to the province.

A series of trillions-of-dong projects by other strategic investors, including FLC Ha Long, Vinpearl Ha Long, and the Ha Long Marina entertainment complex, have turned Quang Ninh into an investment and tourist magnet.

More big projects in the pipeline to diversity tourist offerings include the Quang Hanh Hot Springs Resort and Ha Long Bay Scenery Performance Project, among others.

Ngoc Anh