The department insists in the document that only boats with a proper white coat can carry passengers in Ha Long Bay.
In January, travel agencies in the bay, one of Vietnam’s most famous travel destinations, were required to re-paint their tourist boats white to create a fresh new look for this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Many have protested the instruction ever since, saying authorities in the northern province of Quang Ninh had simply forced them to whiten the boats, while they should have first consulted tour operators about the re-painting instead.
“We don’t want to do this re-painting but it is a directive, so we have to obey,” Ngo Quang Dao, a tourist boat owner, said.
“They will ban us from operating if we refuse to re-coat our boats.”
A white coat is only suitable for large steel ships, Pham Van Hoa, a local boat firm director, says, adding that it is going to fade very quickly on Ha Long Bay boats, which are all made of wood.
The re-coating not only costs travel agencies money but it also comes at the expense of the traditional cockroach-wing color of the boat hulls, another director says.
Ha Long Bay was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, in recognition of its outstanding and universal aesthetic value.
The World Heritage Committee additionally recognized the bay for its striking geological and geomorphological significance six years later.
It was recently chosen as one of the world’s 7 new natural wonders in a global vote that ended last November.
Vietnam will celebrate this event on Friday and Tuesday in Hanoi and Quang Ninh, respectively.