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Quang Binh Officials Deny Plans for Son Doong Cable Car

After a petition against the construction of a cable to Son Doong, the world's largest cave, went viral earlier this week, provincial officials in Quang Binh have denied rumors that such a construction project is slated to take place.

The “Stop Cable Car Construction to Son Doong Cave” petition began on Tuesday, asking netizens to prevent the construction of a cable car leading to the UNESCO-protected site. In its call to action, the petition voiced concern over surveys conducted by FLC Group exploring the possibility of a cable car system around Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The petition soon went viral and has since garnered over 19,000 signatures, prompting provincial authorities to respond.

According to VnExpress, Vice Chairman Tran Tien Dung of the Quang Binh People’s Committee insists there is currently no plan in place to construct a Son Doong cable car.

Nguyen Van Ky, deputy director of the province’s tourism department, supported this statement.

“Son Doong is an invaluable natural resource that needs to be preserved,” Ky told the news outlet.

The tourism official told VnExpress that provincial authorities are asking investors to explore the possibility of cable car projects around the UNESCO-recognized national park. Without the approval of both Vietnam’s prime minister and UNESCO, however, no construction will be allowed, reports Bao Dat Viet.

Citing an unnamed Quang Binh People’s Committee official, Dan Tri also reports the cable car is “just an idea” for the national park, though the anonymous source offered up specific details related to a potential cable car project, including a starting point somewhere along the Ho Chi Minh Highway and a possible terminus a few kilometers from Son Doong.

This is not the first time Quang Binh officials have explored the construction of a Son Doong cable car. In 2014, plans for a similar project were blocked by Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a result of "insufficient input" from UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Last year, the national government also placed a moratorium on construction activities in and around Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park until 2030

Whatever is happening – or not happening – with Son Doong, it’s clear the province is hoping to cash in on local tourism development, as Ho An Phong, director of the Quang Binh Tourism Department, announced yesterday that Quang Binh has inked a promotional deal with TripAdvisor, reports Zing. The province will spend US$45,000 over the next two years to boost its visibility on the website and target international travelers.

Provincial officials have also negotiated rights to erect three statues at Yen Phu Lake, Cha Noi Valley and Mouse Cave, to commemorate the filming of Kong: Skull Island, the forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster, and also attract more visitors.

In 2017, Quang Binh tourism officials aim to welcome 3 million visitors to province, raking in VND3 trillion (US$132.9 million) from tourism activities.

[Photo via Oxalis]

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