Thanh Nien News Daily reports that the Vietnamese government on Tuesday announced that the world's largest cable car system is to be built in Vietnam's World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay.
"The Halong Bay Cable Car (HabCab) will revolutionise how tourists see and experience this premiere destination," said a government representative.
Modelled on the successful Vin Pearl Cable Car system in Nha Trang, the HabCab will eliminate what is often the most problematic aspect of tourist visits to Vietnam -- unscrupulous travel agents who place them on substandard boats to tour the bay. According to tourism experts, the Ha Long Bay experience gets more complaints than any other in Vietnam and is the number one reason cited for tourists saying they will not return to Vietnam.
The HabCab will be anchored to a series of terrestrial and marine-based pylons and will circumnavigate Cat Ba island. Passengers will be allowed to alight on both Hang Trai and Cat Ba islands, with the trip commencing in Ha Long City and terminating in the town of Cat Hai. A trip without stops will take around three hours, officials linked to the project said.
The joint-venture South Korean-Vietnamese developer HabCabCorp is yet to announce pricing details, though it plans to break ground on the project in June 2008, suggesting the project will be in operation in time for New Year 2011.
Responses to the project have been mixed. Nguyen, a factory worker from Hai Phong, said he was very excited about the project as it would bring many new jobs to the region and he was proud that his country would be home to such a watershed development.
Others were less positive. Hong, of Hanoi, a captain on one of the many tourist boats based out of Ha Long City, was far less enthusiastic.
"What will happen to our jobs?" he asked. "I think tourists can only see Ha Long by the sea. To fly over it is not the same and is very unfair to us. We work very hard to give tourists a good service and I think this is a very bad idea for the government to suggest. How many jobs will there be on this HabCab for a boat captain like myself?"
Tourists also were of mixed opinion. Recently returned from a disorganised Ha Long Bay trip, Jacob and Jacobina Jacobsen of Denmark said they thought it was a great idea. "Our trip was very poor, with a smelly boat and very rude staff. I think if we could do something like this it would be terrific for photos and with much fewer problems, as long as it is not too expensive".
Briton Iggy Mansfield, on the other hand, was critical. "Who's going to pay for it and what's it going to cost for a ride? The government would be far better served to reform the existing services rather than construct some gargantuan roller-coaster to spin tourists around. Has anyone considered just how ugly something like this would be?"
HabCabCorp representatives said that a detailed environmental impact study had been completed and that the effects on the bay would be neglible. "There will be a small but neglible impact on fisheries, but we found the overall results to be a net positive," a company representative said. When questioned about the lack of publicity preceeding Tuesday's announcement, the representative explained that secrecy was required in order to minimise disruption to day-to-day tourist services in the region.
"Of course there will be some job losses in the boat business, but we believe long term, the results will be resoundingly positive for the project, the region and for tourism to Vietnam," the representative said.
The company plans to see a return on its capital through ticketing and advertising. "While the price has not been set yet, we already have an international advertising company putting together a proposal for potential advertisers. Each HabCab cabin will include a flat screen TV on which documentaries about Ha Long Bay will be played, along with advertising for other tourist activities in Vietnam," he added, declining to be named.
More controversially, advertising will be allowed on the HabCab pylons. "We envisage a substantial number of powered billboards which will be placed on pylons through the network, and we think these will be of great interest to international corporations like airlines, banks and beverage companies. Tobacco advertising though will not be permitted."
Let's hope, if this deplorable project goes ahead, that it is high enough to let all ships travel underneath unlike the 'bent' deal in Nha Trang which is so low (and hence cheaper) to allow regular sized cruise ships enter Nha Trang.
The police are investigating a USD$10,000,000 'tip' allegedly involved in a Nha Trang deal, most likely because they never got their share!
It is a pity that VietNam is trying so hard to become another Thailand or Bahamas.
Have you heard of the multi-tens of millions of investment in a new casino 'complex' destined for Phu Quoc?
When will people realise that these joints are simply a money grab by various governments?
Better that these 'caring' governments fix the travel agent industry and licence boats that fit a recognised standard. Emeraude, Tropical Sails and a few others show it can be done honestly.
Part of the problem is that many Travellers are not prepared to pay a fair price for a decent trip but instead are happy to put up with sub-standard cruises for low prices.
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
All good points, am sure CatBa
but cant believe you fell for that! April fool's and all.
to be fair, somtam, your post on TT got me wised up :)
#3 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
Yes, it's a joke. The only bits that are true are that a lot of people moan about Ha Long Bay tours and that Jacob and Jacobina Jacobson really do exist!
It was a toss up between the HabCab, the HELP (Hovertrain-Encirclement of Luang Prabang) and the Thai government's plan to tie visa extensions to Thai language ability.
HabCab won the day.