Prospects of ecotourism development in Con Dao island

With the advent of express boats from the southern province of Vung Tau and the Mekong delta province of Soc Trang, tourism in Con Dao island of Vung Tau is booming.

Tourism sector will be a major economy in Con Dao within next five years -Photo: SGGP
Tourism sector will be a major economy in Con Dao within next five years -Photo: SGGP

Along with spiritual tourism, ecotourism to discover jungle, dive ecotourism to see coral reefs or turtle-watching is booming in the island. In addition to boats carrying 200 passengers from Vung Tau to Con Dao, two boats depart from Tran De sea gate in Soc Trang province and flights from Ho Chi Minh City have tripled since end of 2017.

Accordingly, the number of visitor to the island has rocketed up. In first four months of the year, there was an increase of 55.4 percent to 32,000 visitors producing revenue of more than VND151 billion ($6.6 million), up 49 percent compared to same period last year.

Established in 1993, Con Dao National Park covers just shy of 20,000 hectares, comprising nearly 6,000 hectares of forest and 14,000 hectares of marine protected area. It has over 1,000 plants; of which, 44 are described as rare and precious in an island.

It is home to many birds which are not seen in other corners in Vietnam. Con Dao National Park's marine environment and forest resources are in rather good conditions. Its bio-diversity is highly potential and the natural landscape is well preserved.

Since 2014, the park has been recognized as the 2203rd Ramsar site in the world by UNESCO.

From 2006, tourism services have been mushrooming in the island and it has been more popular since 2010 because tourist agents have spent buying 30 canoes to carry visitors to small islets for turtle-watching, coral reefs watching and wild, protected lands.

Visitor Nguyen Thi Thu Nguyet hailing from Hanoi said that she was impressed by palaces under ocean bottom made by coral reefs and grass with either vertebrate or invertebrate aquatic animals.

The beauty of the island is praised by tourists, local and international press. Lately, Business Insider - is an American financial and business news website that also operates international editions in many nations classified the island as one of the islands with greenest ocean in the world.

The Party Committee of Con Dao’s Resolution No. 05-NQ/HU on April 12, 2017 proclaimed tourism sector would be a major economy within next five years of the island. With many historic sites such as the Con Dao prison, the world-recognized Ramsar site and diversified and protected ecosystem, good infrastructure, has numerous sites of interest with diverse tourism products and services, each with its own appeal.

In the decision for Con Dao’s tourism development plan by 2030, Vietnamese Prime Minister said that Con Dao authority should develop maritime and forest resources, ecotourism and spiritual tourism are on top priority.

Director of Con Dao Tourism Park Nguyen Van Dung said that the surge of visitors to Con Dao is a good sign but it is also worrisome because the island has 53 hotels with a capacity to accommodate 2,500 visitors per day and night. With fast tourism development as present, infrastructure in the island can’t meet the demand; moreover, there is a severe shortage of skilled laborers.

On the other hand, local authority should take heed of environment protection and biodiversity conservation besides tourism development for sustainable development.