Provincial officials in the Quang Binh region of Vietnam have vouched to push ahead with a measure that would see the creation of a gondola lift in Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest cave. Even without approval from national authorities.
The north-central province’s leadership recently hosted a press conference to eliminate environmental concerns about its plan to build a 212-million dollar cable car setup inside Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park’s immense Son Doong Cave. Truong An Ninh, a spokesman for Quang Binh Province, announced they had picked the real estate and resort developer, Sun Group, to survey the area, before officially installing the system.
The two-way route will stretch 10.6 km from Tien Son Cave to the rear opening of Son Doong, which contains an estimated 150 individual grottos along with an underground jungle and numerous rivers. Thirty medial supporting towers will be built to support the cable, while each tower will feature a 360-degree camera that will help notify park authorities of forest fires and other threats. Though some have urged of the environmental damage the towers and overall construction could cause, officials argued that these impacts would be minimal and sparing.
“There won’t be any impact on the caves’ natural beauty or structural integrity,” said Nguyen Huu Hoai, Quang Binh’s mayor. “The system will not pose any threat to visitors’ safety.”
The undertaking is modeled after 86 similar projects at national parks in 26 other countries around the world. Before its formally set into motion, Hoai said the province would have to carefully consider the logistics and deliberate with central government agencies as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“If the agencies and UNESCO don’t endorse [the cable car system], we won’t do it,” he said.
Tourists will have to manually walk into Son Doong to use the tour service as it will sit 300-500 meters inside. It is expected to hold 1,000 passengers an hour for around 20 dollars each, allowing visitors of all walks of life to communally enjoy the cave and other attractions.
“With so much potential to become an international destination, Quang Binh cannot accept a future of poverty. Tourism development, including the cable car system, is the right direction for Quang Binh to escape poverty and become a rich province,” Hoai said, adding that “The cable car system will surely create tourism breakthroughs and jobs for thousands of locals.”
Still, without approval from the nation’s agencies, the project’s announcement means nothing.
“We have not received any responses from agencies concerned and we have not rendered an official verdict on the matter,” said Nguyen Dinh Toan, vice minister of construction.