Vietnam’s floating restaurants grounded

KHANH HOA, 7 November 2016: Khanh Hoa authorities have banned all floating restaurants in the south-central Vietnamese province over safety concerns.

Saigon Times reported the ban came after a tragic incident in another province a few months back.

Last July, a floating restaurant, with around 300 guests on its deck, sank in Vinh Hy Bay in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, south of Khanh Hoa,  leaving two people dead and four others injured.

The Ninh Thuan government then ordered a suspension of all floating restaurants in the bay.

Officials said the restaurants, that had been converted from aquaculture cages to serve tourists, were not safe. The businesses were not properly registered, or checked regularly for safety the authorities warned.

There are about 50 floating restaurants in Nha Trang and Cam Ranh cities, and Ninh Hoa Town. Tourists are warned to stay off the floating rafts.

The majority of the restaurants were converted from fish farming rafts, and built using traditional techniques. Their rafts are made of wooden planks, and the restaurants float thanks to attached plastic barrels and buoys. But they can become dislodged, or fail under weight stress or a change in sea conditions

For the first nine months of the year, Khanh Hoa welcomed 3.6 million visitors increasing 15% over the same period last year including 869,985 foreign tourists, a 29% rise year-on-year.

Khanh Hoa is well known for its beaches, particularly Nha Trang Bay, often voted among the most beautiful in the world.

The province, on Vietnam’s south central coast, enjoys the second largest economy of the central region after Danang.

Noted for its attractive beaches and natural landscape the province is famous for its deep water bays; the most noteworthy, Cam Ranh, accessible from Cam Ranh International Airport one of the busiest in the country.

Russia has always been the top market for the province’s tourism industry followed by South Korea, Australia, China and Belgium. China has now taken the lead.