A drone shot of the Panorama Hotel in Ma Pi Leng Pass of Ha Giang Province, in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Authorities in Meo Vac District, where the Panorama Hotel is situated, ordered the hotel to stop all services pending an official decision.
Earlier in the day Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trinh Thi Thuy said in a communication to local authorities that the hotel obstructed views of the landscapes, and they should convert it into a tourist rest stop but without affecting the views and ensuring public safety and harmony with nature.
Ha Giang's Department of Construction had on October 8 sent a letter to the province People's Committee recommending the demolition of the seven-storey structure leaving only the ground floor standing.
But Vu Thi Anh, the hotel’s owner, objected to this saying the demolition would affect the remaining structure and debris would pollute the environment.
"Instead of razing the building, authorities should permit us to regularize it by completing the paperwork required for a proper license," she said. Anh also offered to make it "completely friendly to the landscape" and a "part of nature."
Hoang Chinh, director of the construction department, had said when the problem first arose that since the hotel was in a rural area that lacked detailed construction planning, no construction permit was required.
But it had failed to submit three documents: a permit converting the land from agricultural to commercial use, an investment certificate and the construction design for authorities to assess its safety and environmental impacts, he noted.
Ma Pi Leng Pass was recognized as a national scenic spot in 2009, and the hotel lies within its buffer zone. The 20-kilometer pass connects Ha Giang Town, Dong Van District and Meo Vac District. Its name in the Hmong ethnic group's language literally means "bridge of a horse’s nose."
The Heritage Law stipulates that constructions likely to adversely affect the natural landscapes and environment at a heritage site must get an evaluation done by a competent state agency, something the Panorama Hotel failed to do.
It is not the first encroachment at a national heritage spot due to illegal construction.
In July 2017 a family business opened a tourist site within the Trang An Landscape Complex, a UNESCO world heritage site in the northern province of Ninh Binh. It took authorities almost a year to shut down the business in March 2018.