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Over the past year, ENV has uncovered the secret world of Korean Bear Tourism in Ha Long Bay. Working with Environmental Police and later conducting surveillance outside a number of large bear farms located just a few miles from scenic Ha Long Bay, ENV has documented busloads of Korean tourists visiting bear farms where they witness a bear bile extraction, taste wine, and are encouraged to buy illegal bear products. Unwittingly, the tourists then take the illegal products home to Korea at the end of their visit, which is in direct violation of CITES regulations.
In addition to working to shut down these illegal tourist operations, ENV has sought to raise awareness amongst Korean tourists and let them know that buying and smuggling bear products is a violation of the law.
ENV is working with Korean NGOs to increase awareness about the issue in Korea and have major Korean Airlines warn customers before arrival in Vietnam. ENV has also targeted hotels where Korean tourists stay in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, providing Korean language warnings and encouraging tourists to avoid bear farms during their visit. In Hanoi, the Melia, Fortuna, and Sheraton hotels are displaying advisories for their clients.
As ENV targets tourists with warnings, we remain hopeful that the Quang Ninh provincial government will take appropriate steps to end the illegal activities at bear farms in their province, and preserve the sanctity of Ha Long Bay as a World Heritage Site from the shadow of illegal bear farms just down the road.