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Power cut prompts tourists to cancel Co To Island visit

The Co To Island wore a deserted look last weekend.

The normal crowd of holiday goers, which swells up to between 10,000 and 15,000 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, had dwindled to just 5,000 or so.

Most tourists had postponed their tours and cancelled their bookings after hearing that the northern island, which is not far from Ha Long Bay, would have no electricity until the end of the month.

The Quang Ninh Power Company announced on Monday that repair work on electrical submarine cable would last until the end of the month.

Between 30 to 40 percent of June bookings have been cancelled or re-scheduled, said Vu Thanh Minh, owner of the Coto Eco Lodge, a homestay service. Most cancellations were by groups with small children or elderly people.

At the Duy Hoang hostel, bookings for 15 rooms have been re-scheduled to July. “In some hostels and homestays, all customers completely cancelled their bookings when they heard of the power cut,” said Nguyen Van Cuong, who runs a tourism business on the island.

Having lived for more than 10 years on the island, Vu Thanh Minh said power cuts happened every year due to natural disasters.

This year, it has been prolonged and coincided with the peak tourism season, hurting local residents and businesses dependent on the influx.

However, things seem to be getting back to normal.

Most homestay businesses are equipped with small and medium-size generators to provide power for lighting. Hotels and hostels now have back-up generators and water tanks to sustain services for 20 – 24 hours.

“Before 2012, we were not connected to the national grid. We only had generators. Then, we could quickly adapt. In recent years, when we are in the tourism business and life has improved, we bought better electric generators to supply for both our family and guests”, said Nguyen Van Trung, a resident.

Most places do not charge extra fees, except for VND150,000 – 200,000 ($7-8) for power consumption for more than five hours.

Hostels and hotels have promptly informed their customers of the prolonged power and water supply cut so they can be well-prepared for their travel.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, a tourist from Hanoi, said: “Despite the warnings, we did not postpone our trip. I am surprised that the prices have remained stable, though restaurants have to constantly use generators, and even ice has to be delivered from Van Don Island.”

On June 18, lightning struck a power cable on Co To and five Van Don Island wards, causing a blackout on the island, according to the Quang Ninh Power Company. The outage was prolonged on Co To since repairing the submarine cable was challenging, requiring the power company to assign divers and boats to search for the fractured part. Around 5,000 tourists were stuck on the island.

Last year, the island attracted a total of 320,000 visitors, including 2,200 foreigners, and generated VND570 billion ($25 million) in tourism revenue, a 42.5 percent jump from the previous year.


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