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Tourism Ministry to Pursue World Heritage Status for Cat Ba

It would be Vietnam's ninth UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nhan Dan reports that Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has ordered the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO to work with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and apply for World Heritage Site recognition for the Cat Ba Archipelago.

Cat Ba sits just below the more famous Ha Long Bay, which has already received UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.

According to the news source, paperwork seeking this title for Cat Ba was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in 2013, after which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) suggested that Ha Long Bay's World Heritage Site be extended to include Cat Ba and its surrounding islands, as well as majestic Lan Ha Bay.

That has yet to happen, though Cat Ba and its more than 360 islands and islets is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 

In addition to numerous other species of flora and fauna, Cat Ba is home to the critically endangered Cat Ba langur, a striking primate found only on the archipelago's main island. Threats to the species' survival include hunting and habitat loss due to development.

Officials hope that World Heritage status would protect Cat Ba's biodiversity while also boosting the local economy, though there is debate over the benefits of such recognition in other parts of the world.

In June 2020, real estate and investment conglomerate Sun Group opened a nearly 4 kilometer-long cable car linking Cat Hai Island to Cat Ba Island in an effort to bring more tourists to the island. There are concerns about the environmental impacts of such development, especially in regards to the langurs. 

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