Ha Long Bay, Vietnam’s spectacular seascape of 1,600 limestone islands and caves, has begun its bid to be chosen as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Local tourism giants are voicing their support for the campaign, dubbed “Ha Long Bay, Seven New Wonders”, by opening an office to encourage votes for Ha Long Bay.
The Truly Ha Long Center opens tomorrow, 5 September, in Hanoi, and will be at the heart of the quest to win Vietnam’s greatest natural attraction one of the coveted places on the list.
Getting the word out is the primary goal of the Truly Ha Long Center, and its sponsors are exerting every effort to raise awareness of the international competition. Emeraude Classic Cruises, one of the Center’s sponsors, is spreading the word by designing special flyers for distribution to all its guests, and promoting the campaign on its Web site.
“We’re going all out to bring in the vote for Ha Long Bay,” said Kurt Walter, the Emeraude’s General Manager. “To everyone who’s ever been here, it’s obvious that this is an almost supernaturally beautiful spot, completely unspoiled and indisputably unique. We’re hoping our publicity campaign will make it obvious to the rest of the world.”
The Emeraude cruiser, a picture-perfect reproduction of a 19th-centy paddle wheel steamer, offers overnight tours of the Bay, giving visitors the chance to enjoy the incredible panorama in an atmosphere of colonial grandeur and old-fashioned luxury. As one of Ha Long Bay’s most established and feted cruise operators, the company’s support for the Center has been essential in unifying the area’s tourism agencies, travel agents and hoteliers in the movement to make the Bay a winner.
The Truly Ha Long Center, along with drumming up popular support for Ha Long Bay’s nomination, will be a showroom for the bay, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws more than one and a half million visitors each year. Visitors will be able to view video clips and photographs, learn about available tours and attractions, and will be given access to Web sites where they can cast their vote for Vietnam’s entry.
Nominations for the list will be accepted through 8 August 2008, after which 21 semi-finalists will be selected by a panel of experts. Voters worldwide will then choose the final seven. Ha Long Bay, according to Walter, is in it to win.
“We’re at the dawn of a new day in Vietnam,” said Walter. “So far, this country hasn’t had the international exposure that so many other tourist destinations have. If it did, Ha Long Bay’s place on the list would be a dead cert. That’s our job: to bring Ha Long Bay the recognition that’s so well-deserved and so long overdue. And we’re going to make it happen.”
Votes can be entered at www.natural7wonders.com.