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Asia Dive News : Con Dao island hopes to become economic-tourism zone

Ba Ria-Vung Tau - The Prime Minister has approved southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province's plan to turn Con Dao island, once a notorious prison for opponents of French colonialism and the US-backed Saigon regime in the south of Viet Nam, into an economic-tourist-service zone by 2020.

In the plan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province outlined the targets to increase the population to 50,000 people by 2020 who will have an average income of 1,800-2,000 USD each.

Agreeing with the plan, the Prime Minister has also directed Ba Ria-Vung Tau to draw up a long-term vision for the development of Con Dao while making a breakthrough right at the begining, in order to fully exploit the island's available potential in close association with the southern region's development plan.

Con Dao island is set to develop its high-quality seafood processing for both local and foreign markets and will also provide repair services for vessels, transport means and construction machinery.

The preservation of revolutionary sites, such as the Con Dao prison and Hang Duong cemetery, and the Con Dao National Park is also a highlight in the island's 2020 socio-economic development plan.

The work will include the establishment of a branch of the Ha Noi-based Viet Nam History Museum with showrooms displaying objects, photos and models of prisons for revolutionaries during the wars of resistance against the French and Americans on the Con Dao prison's campus.

The remote Con Dao island, which is more than 180 km from Vung Tau, makes up of a group of 16 islands with a total population of around 4,000 people.

It is one of a few places in Viet Nam that is home to sea turtles, dolphins, and the rare dugong (popularly known as sea cows). It also boasts large and diverse coral reefs comparable to the most famous ecotourism spots in Southeast Asia.

With a cool weather all year round, the island is home to pristine beaches, such as Dam Trau, Dat Doc, Bai Canh and Hon Tre, giving visitors from far and wide a haven to relax.

Besides its natural beauty, Con Dao island, once known as "Poulo Condor" and long considered as a hell on earth, is a historical site. Many patriots and revolutionaries during the wars of resistance against the French and Americans were imprisoned on the island.

The Con Dao prison complex was established by the French colonial authority in 1861. From then until 1975, the French colonial administration, and then the US-backed Saigon regime, incarcerated Vietnamese revolutionaries in brutal conditions, often in tiny underground boxes known as "tiger cages" or"rice mills".

Con Dao is accessible by international sea routes from the north Asian countries of Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, and Southeast Asian countries of Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

It is now accessible by plane with the recent inauguration of the Co Ong airport, which has helped attract more holidaymakers to the island.

Source: VN Agency