Prime Minister Calls for Investigation Into Vinpearl Scandal

The height of the Vinpearl cable car system should be 60m but it is lowered to 54m after that

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday requested related agencies to provide details into the Vinpearl case, which is said to be causing the loss of some 16,000 foreign tourists to Khanh Hoa Province.

The Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Khanh Hoa Provincial People’s Committee to promptly clarify the situation after newspapers reported that the height of the Vinpearl cable car system hinders international cruise ships entering the Nha Trang Port. 

The Vinpearl cable-car is the first sea-crossing system in Viet Nam, linking Nha Trang city to the Vinpearl Land resort in Khanh Hoa province. The 3,320m cable car, possibly the longest in the world, is capable of carrying 1,500 passengers per hour. The VND200 billion (US$125 million) system is expected to begin running in March 2007.  

Minimum height lowered from 60 to 54m

The Khanh Hoa Province’s People’s Committee held an emergency conference yesterday to discuss the Vinpearl cable car system’s encroachment on Nha Trang’s Port.  Nha Trang Port Representative, Dang Minh Trung, reaffirmed that the British cruise ship Aurora wouldn’t be allowed to enter the port for safety reasons. 

“We have thought about allowing the ship to go around Hon Tre Island to enter the port but decided against it because the port is only 215m long while the Aurora’s length is 270m.  If it entered the port, part of it would have to lie under the cable car system,” said Mr Trung at the meeting.     

According to a representative from the Khanh Hoa Department of Transport, which verified the design of the Vinpearl system, the project was approved under two separate agreements.  One was signed on May 13, 2005 by the Ministry of Defense and the project’s investor, Vinpearl Tourism and Trade Stock Company. That agreement allowed the construction of the Vinpearl system with a minimum height of 64m, which would meet the safety requirements of Nha Trang Airport. 

On January 4, 2006, as requested by Khanh Hoa Province, the Ministry of Transport signed another agreement, which lowered the Vinpearl system’s minimum height to 54m, 6m lower than what the Ministry of Transport set down in a document issued May 5, 2005. 

At the emergency meeting, Dang Thanh Thuy, representing the Vinpearl Tourism and Trade Stock Company, repeated many times that his company had followed agreements signed with the relevant authorities to the letter.   

Nha Trang to lose 15,000 to 16,000 tourists

According to Mr. Phan Xuan Anh, an advisor to the Tan Hong Tourism Company, which receives tourists from cruise ships, up until the beginning of March, three international cruise ships (the Aurora, Oriana and Princess Sapphire) had cancelled their trips to Nha Trang because of the Vinpearl cable car system.

He said that most ships entering Nha Trang’s Port are very large and carry many passengers.  In previous years, the Aurora entered Nha Trang Port about twice a year carrying 1,800 passengers on each trip.  The Oriana, carrying 1,700 passengers per trip, averages between 1 and 2 trips per year. 

The 5-star Princess Sapphire has made 3-4 trips per year with an average number of 3.000 passengers per trip. Thus, a total of 15,000 to 16,000 international tourists cannot enter the region via Nha Trang’s Port due to safety concerns related to the cable car.     

According to expert estimates, annual revenues from services for cruise ships such as port and pilot fees range from VND700 million to VND800 million (US$ 50,000), however these numbers are nothing compared with the potential revenue from providing foreign tourists with services like city tours, shopping, entertainment and food which amount to billions of dong annually. 

By N.D – Translated by Trong Khuong

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