(VOVWORLD) - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the Ha Long Bay‑Cat Ba Archipelago as a World Natural Heritage site at the 45th expanded session of the World Heritage Committee, held in the capital Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on September 16th. The Ha Long Bay‑Cat Ba Archipelago is Vietnam’s first inter-provincial UNESCO-listed world heritage site, which is expected to open up many opportunities for its development and preservation.
Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province and Cat Ba Archipelago in Cat Hai district, Hai Phong City in Vietnam’s northeast region, has been dubbed the “Pearl of the Tonkin Gulf”. The heritage’s core area covers more than 65,000 hectares with a buffer zone of more than 34,000 hectares. The site possesses many national and international titles such as Ha Long Bay Special National Relic Site, Cat Ba National Park, Cat Ba World Biosphere Reserve, and Ha Long Bay – a World Natural Heritage site recognized in 1994 and 2000.
The recognition of Ha Long Bay‑Cat Ba Archipelago as a World Natural Heritage has certified the prominence of the heritage. It’s the pride and joy of the people of Hai Phong city, Quang Ninh province, and the whole country.
Nguyen Thi Tuyet, a resident in Ha Long city, said: “Ha Long Bay has been recognized twice by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site. When Cat Ba was recognized, we are very happy. We’ll work together to further develop tourism.”
Nguyen Van Thang, a resident in Hai Phong city, shared his views: “The recognition of Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago as a World Heritage Site will give us opportunities to preserve the biological and topographical values and introduce the heritage to the wider world.”
With more than 1,130 limestone islets of various shapes covered with a large variety of plants, the Ha Long Bay‑Cat Ba Archipelago has an amazing natural beauty and unique value. This place is regarded as a geological museum with layers of terrigenous and carbonate sedimentary formations dating from a billion years ago.
With a combination of mountains, forests, and islands, Ha Long Bay‑Cat Ba Archipelago has 7 marine, island, tropical, and subtropical ecosystems and is home to more than 4,900 species of fauna and flora. Of these, 51 species are endemic and 198 species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.
An example of a rare species is the Cat Ba Langur, which is on the list of animals at the highest risk of extinction and is included in the World Red Book. Up to now, 60 to 70 langurs survive in Cat Ba, but no where else in the world.
In 1994 Ha Long Bay was named a World Heritage Site for its natural landscape. In 2000 it was acknowledged as a World Heritage Site for its geological and geomorphological value.
Pham Tri Tuyen, Head of the Culture, Sports, Information, and Tourism Devision of Cat Hai district, Hai Phong city, said: “Heritage preservation is a big duty of the authorities and people of Cat Hai district. The public should improve their sense of responsibility to protect the heritage site while good protection is a condition to sustainably develop Cat Ba Archipelago.”
Cat Hai district has worked closely with the administrations of Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh to develop long‑term, sustainable development plans for the heritage and draft regulations for co‑management of tourist destinations in Cat Ba Archipelago and Ha Long Bay.
The tourism sector, businesses, and people of Hai Phong and Quang Ninh are ready to collaborate in preserving and promoting the heritage to domestic and international tourists.
Nguyen The Hue, Chairman of the Quang Ninh Tourism Association, said: “We hope Quang Ninh and Hai Phong will work closely in tourism development. The leaders and businesses should discuss managerial work and create new attractive tourism products. We’ll engage our business members in protecting the heritage.”
The expansion of the World Natural Heritage Ha Long Bay to include Cat Ba Archipelago will raise the value of the heritage and generate opportunities for Vietnam to better preserve and promote this natural wonder to the world.