Thousands of people gathered at the My Dinh National Stadium last night to witness the official naming of Ha Long Bay as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Addressing the ceremony, Bernard Weber, president of the New7Wonders Foundation said: "The competition was lively and fair… which was a great success for all 15 countries that own the new seven wonders." Weber added that his goal was to bring inspiration, to create motivation and participation on themes everyone could understand, themes that had real and lasting value.
At the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan thanked thousands of Vietnamese people living in and outside the country and international friends of Viet Nam, who had enthusiastically voted for Ha Long over the past four years. He also hoped local authorities and concerned agencies would make more efforts to preserve and bring into full play the natural values of the bay in the near future.
Weber then gave a commemorative plaque recognising the bay as one of the new seven wonders that had been cast by hand in bronze in Munich to Culture, Sport and Tourism Minister Hoang Tuan Anh and Nguyen Van Doc, chairman of Quang Ninh Province's People's Committee. The same plaque will be given to Quang Ninh authority on May 1 at the annual Ha Long Carnival event. The ceremony was followed by an art performance by more than one thousand artists and students.
The whole stadium redesigned to resemble a huge stage in the form of a small Ha Long Bay with fake mountains, water and boats, where various dancing and singing performances praising the bay as well as other wonderful sites in Viet Nam such as the Ho Dynasty Citadel Remnants, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Hue Citadel, My Son Sanctuary and Hoi An City. The show also featured examples of intangible cultural heritage in Viet Nam such as Phu Tho Xoan Singing, quan ho (northern love duet singing), ca tru (chamber singing), nha nhac (Hue royal music), don ca tai tu (southern amateur music) and Central Highland's gongs.
Selected from more than 440 locations in 220 countries, Ha Long was an eventual finalist along with the Amazon (in South America), Iguazu Falls (in Argentina and Brazil), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo (Indonesia), Puerto Princesa Underground River (the Philippines) and Table Mountain (South Africa). The results were announced last November. Ha Long Bay was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, in recognition of its outstanding, universal aesthetic value.
In 2000 the World Heritage Committee additionally recognised Ha Long Bay for its outstanding geological and geomorphological value. "It has been the best-selling destination for tourists," said Nguyen Van Tuan, director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism. "That's why establishing and advertising the tourism trademark of Ha Long Bay is the first and foremost duty of the tourism sector."