- Improved infrastructure makes the Unesco World Heritage Site increasingly accessible, hopes to welcome 16 million tourists in 2020
- Travellers already complain of overcrowding and rubbish-infested water
Ha Long Bay’s postcard-perfect karst islets have long attracted travellers to its Unesco-approved seascape. In 2017, the destination (population circa 1,500), in northern Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province, welcomed almost 7 million international and domestic visitors, according to website Halong Bay Tourism. The region’s tourism department hopes to receive up to 16 million tourists by the end of next year, “and to rake in VND30-40 trillion (US$1.3-1.7 billion) in revenue”, it states, on its website.
Taking a major step towards achieving that goal, on December 30, Vietnam opened Van Don International Airport, which considerably cuts travel time to Ha Long Bay for overseas visitors. What was once an eight-hour round trip from Hanoi is now just over an hour from an airport that, when fully operational, will connect the bay with 35 cities, including Hong Kong, Macau and 10 in mainland China.