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Illegal Hotel on Ma Pi Leng Pass Becomes Center of Controversy

Located in Ha Giang Province, Ma Pi Leng Pass is known for its breathtaking views of natural beauty.

In early 2019, a six-story building called the Ma Pi Leng Panorama that serves as a hostel, restaurant and café was constructed above the Tu San Abyss Alley on the pass. Work on the hotel began in 2018, and since opening, it has attracted many tourists visiting Ha Giang's famed mountain pass thanks to its location.

In July, the Ha Giang Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism reported to the Department of Cultural Heritage that the construction of the Panorama hostel didn't have an investment certification and wasn’t approved by authorities, VnExpress reports.

The hotel was built on old agricultural land, which the department found wasn’t given permission for a status change to construction land. The project also doesn’t have a construction permit, and stands out remarkably given that there are no other buildings on the pass.

Panorama’s illegality resulted in public controversy, with many people demanding that the building be demolished.

In a report to the prime minister about the hotel, the Ha Giang People’s Committee said that responsibility for the construction of Panorama belongs to Meo Vac District. The provincial people’s committee admitted that based on a recommendation from the UNESCO Global Geopark Council’s chairman, Guy Martini, the province had ordered the Meo Vac District People’s Committee to build a rest stop for tourists in the exact same location as the Ma Pi Leng Panorama.

The committee wanted the rest stop to be finished by July 2018 to coincide with the revalidation of the Dong Van Karst Plateau for UNESCO’s Global Geopark title.

Vu Ngoc Anh, the owner of Panorama, told Nguoi Lao Dong that she bought the land 10 years ago from local residents. According to Anh, in 2018, local authorities summoned her to announce that they would acquire the land for construction, although they later gave her time to think about building a rest stop for tourists.

While Anh admitted the hotel doesn’t have a construction license, she said she received support from local authorities and officials. Anh said that if the Panorama gets shut down, she would have no other option but to "jump into the Nho Que River."

Responding to this comment, Nguyen Van Binh, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said that Anh can’t use her life to threaten and create pressure against the law. Binh said the ministry believes the construction is a legal violation, and that although it wasn't completed in secret, the owner didn't follow the Ha Giang People's Committee's order by constructing a whopping six-story building rather than just a small rest stop.

[Photo by Luu Quang Pho via Thanh Nien]