The People’s Committee of Vietnam’s central province of Quang Binh and Australia’s Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association have signed an agreement to establish a symbiotic relationship between tourist caves in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the Margaret River Region.

The world’s first sister caves agreement was formalised in Margaret River town, Western Australia state, on February 20.

As stipulated, they agreed to work together to promote cave tourism in the sister regions, including cooperation to improve management of the respective caves and raising international awareness of both sites.

The partnership will also form a foundation for the implementation of joint projects on environmental management and staff training.

Vietnamese Consul General Le Viet Duyen said the agreement will help strengthen the two countries’ tourism links and people-to-people exchange, describing it as the first step towards the establishment of cooperative relations between their localities.

Western Australia Minister for Regional Development and Lands Terry Redman underlined the state’s willingness to bolster ties with Vietnam, noting that trade reached 1.18 billion AUD (918 million USD) in 2014, surging by 150 percent from two years earlier.

He declared the new agreement a significant contribution to bringing about development opportunities and practical benefits for both Australia and Vietnam.

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park covers 85,754 hectares with a 195,400-hectare buffer zone. It is among the 238 most important ecological zones in the world.

The property, listed in UNESCO's World Natural Heritage Sites, contains and protects over 104 kilometres of caves and underground rivers and is considered one of the most outstanding limestone karst ecosystems in the world. The karsts are believed to have been formed during the Palaeozoic period (some 400 million years ago), making it the oldest major karst area in Asia.-VNA