Vietnam plans to bring tourists to Spratly Islands this month

By Mai Thanh Hai, Thanh Nien News

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Boats carry people to Song Tu Tay Island in Truong Sa. Photo: Mai Thanh Hai

Ho Chi Minh City government on Tuesday ordered its tourism and transport departments and travel companies to conduct a feasibility study for tours to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea, the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea.
The HCMC People’s Committee asked the departments, agencies and companies to quickly finish their reports so that the first tour to Truong Sa can be launched on June 22.
The city hall said the pilot tours will pave way for the official operation of Truong Sa as a tourist destination, as approved by the city’s Party unit.
It also tasked the Saigon Newport Corporation with seeking the approval from the Ministry of Defense to use ships for the tours.
Currently, Truong Sa Islands in the central province of Khanh Hoa are not accessible to tourists. The archipelago usually receives visitors from April to June every year but only for work purposes. 
China routinely outlines the scope of its territorial claims through maps featuring a “nine-dash line” that encircles about 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer resource-rich East Sea. The maps flew in the face of competing claims from four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, which also have overclapping claims in the Truong Sa island chain.
Below are a number of photos taken by a Thanh Nien reporter during a trip to Truong Sa last month.

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