Bitexco, a major real estate developer, has asked the Quang Ninh provincial authorities to give it the concession to manage Ha Long Bay, a World Natural Heritage site.
The real estate group would have the right to exploit the bay by collecting fees for excursions and related services for 50 years.
The main goal of the bay management project, according to Bitexco President Vu Van Hoi, is to develop Ha Long Bay into the most attractive destination for tourists in East Asia and build Ha Long Bay into an international tourist brand.
The concession fees, as suggested by Bitexco, would be VND90 billion for the first three years, VND130 billion for the next three years and VND160 billion afterwards.
Regarding the profit sharing, Bitexco promised the proportion of 20 percent of profit to the Quang Ninh provincial authorities after the first three years of the bay exploitation. The proportion would be 30 percent after six years and 50 percent after 10 years.
Bitexco has offered the profit sharing ratios based on the expectation that it would have total turnover of $5 billion instead of $10 million at present.
No official answer has been given to Bitexco, but it is clear that its proposal has not been supported by relevant agencies.
The information that the Quang Ninh provincial people’s committee is “considering Bitexco’s proposal” has raised the strong opposition from the public.
Some people have even criticized the provincial authorities of “selling the the world’s natural heritage, a national valuable asset“.
Phan Dinh Tan, Chief Secretariat and Spokesman of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that the local authorities need to think carefully before making decisions.
“Ha Long is not just a normal tourist site like the other beautiful landscapes. It has been two times recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage. And we must not treat it the same way as other tourist sites,” he said.
“In order to protect the heritage, it is necessary to keep a close watch over it. The ‘socialization’ formula is not the right solution for all problems,” he added. “The Quang Ninh provincial authorities must not leave the whole work to Bitexco“.
In reply to the criticism, Nguyen Van Doc, Chair of the Quang Ninh people’s committee, said at the press conference held on July 24 that the local authorities have not made any decision on the proposal.
He said the provincial authorities plan to call for private-public partnership (PPP) cooperation for the development and management of the Ha Long and Bai Tu Long bays.
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