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Vietnam Tourism Authority Supports Son Doong Cable Car

It's hard to argue with the majesty of Son Doong. As the world's largest cave and one of the most remote places not just in Vietnam but on earth, this never-ending subterranean wilderness is truly one of a kind.

It's incredibly easy, however, to argue with the idea of building a cable car outside one of Vietnam's greatest natural wonders.

Still, some will have you believe that it's necessary to the development of local tourism. During a press conference last week, Nguyen Van Tuan, general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), spoke out in support of a cable car project within Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in order to attract mass tourism and capitalize on the natural wonders in the area, reports VnExpress

“We maintain [Phong Nha-Ke Bang] as one of the most unique heritage sites in the world. But if we want to benefit society, communities and businesses then we must find solutions to increase the number of tourists,” Tuan told the news website. 

The tourism official went on to argue that Son Doong is a very special and unique attraction but, due to its inaccessibility and the high cost of guided tours to the cave – US$3,000 a head – only a few hundred visitors are able to go each year.

Building a 10.6-kilometer cable car from the opening of Phong Nha Cave to within 300 meters of the entrance to Son Doong, Tuan argued, would allow more tourists to visit and would not harm the natural environment or ecosystems within the national park.

The rest of Vietnam may not be so into the idea. VnExpress included a poll at the bottom of its article, asking readers whether they supported the construction of a cable car at Son Doong or not. As of this morning, 1,462 of the 1,651 respondents – or 89% – were opposed to sticking a manmade contraption smack in the middle of the country's most stunning natural landscape.

Poll numbers aside, it's safe to say more than a few people disagree with the construction of a Son Doong cable car. Last October, after local media outlets first reported the development of a US$212 million cable car project to the cave, Vietnamese wasted no time registering their disapproval of the idea.

Weeks later, Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism axed the plan following the overwhelmingly negative feedback from citizens. As an online petition against the project reached nearly 65,000 signatures, things went quiet on the cable car front for a while until June of this year, when Vietnamese authorities vowed to suspend all construction projects in and around the Phong Nha-Ke Bang area until 2030.

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[Photo via Oxalis]