New rule to leave half tourist boats in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay ashore

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Nearly half the boats serving tourists in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay may have to temporarily stay inshore, as their operators have failed to equip them with a mandatory wastewater treatment tool.

The administration of the northern province of Quang Ninh has requested that all tourist boats at the UNESCO World Heritage Site be equipped with an oily water separator (OWS) by the end of this month, otherwise they will not be allowed to sail off.

Ha Long Bay is located in the eponymous city, which is the capital of Quang Ninh.

An OWS is a piece of equipment used to separate oil and water mixtures into their separate components.

The devices are found aboard ships where they are utilized to separate oil from oily wastewater such as bilge water before the wastewater is discharged into the environment.

The Quang Ninh administration has thus made the OWS mandatory equipment on tourist boats to protect the environment of Ha Long Bay.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, only 290 out of the 530 tourist boats operating in Ha Long Bay have the equipment installed on board, according to newswire VnExpress, which cited the Quang Ninh port authorities.

The provincial administration has insisted that boats without the OWS be suspended until the device is installed.

An oily water separator costs around VND18-19 million ($805-850), which boat operators say is too expensive, while its effectiveness is not immediately clear, according to VnExpress.

The clock is now ticking for these boat operators to save their business as it is only three days away from the deadline.

The Quang Ninh administration is exerting effort to resolve environmental issues in Ha Long Bay to attract tourists.

The province, 180km east of Hanoi, received 6.1 million tourists in the first eight months of this year and is expected to post VND6.5 trillion ($290.18 million) in tourism revenue in the entire year.

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