Vietnam hotel digs up beach to facilitate swimming

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An excavator  illegally removes coral, pebble, and sand from Nha Trang Bay to make way for a swimming area for Muong Thanh Nha Trang. Authorities stopped the work which had started on June 1.

Authorities Wednesday stopped Vietnam's largest private hotel chain from dredging the sea near its hotel in the coastal resort town of Nha Trang to make it easier for guests to swim.

Muong Thanh began clearing 4,000 sq.m of water of coral, most of which is reportedly dead, near Hon Mot Island last Saturday and filling in sand though permission from authorities is only on paper yet.

Nha Trang was conferred the status of National Landscape under the Heritage Law in 2005.

But the hotel could not produce any documents to prove that the Khanh Hoa Province People's Committee has given permission for the work, Thanh Nien discovered.

The only papers it had showed, however, that the work had approval in principle, and Mai Van Thang, deputy director of the province Department of Natural Resources and Environment, confirmed this.

But the hotel was yet to complete the required legal procedures and submit detailed plans to his department, he said.

The law specifies a fine of VND10-20 million for destruction of tourist attractions, and VND20-30 million in serious cases.

Under very similar circumstances in 2011 Focus Travel Company was fined VND25 million (US$1,200) by the Khanh Hoa Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The company had got permission in principle for a 90-hectare international marina at a cost of VND388 billion (US$18.5 million) in Nha Trang Bay, but was still awaiting environmental clearance when it went ahead and began to dredge a portion of the sea.

In 2005 Nha Trang Bay became a member of the exclusive Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club. Vietnam has two other members Ha Long and Lang Co Bays.

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