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Cruise tourism development plan still awaiting inter-ministerial cooperation

Vietnam’s natural conditions are good enough to receive both big cruise ships and yachts. However, in order to develop cruise tourism, Vietnam would have to settle many problems in port infrastructure, port management, travel agent management and many others.

The conclusion can be found in the report on the Vietnam’s cruise tourism potentials, reflecting the viewpoints of the Singaporean mission which included private companies in the fields relating to cruise business, the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Tourism, the Singaporean Tourism Agency and some cruise groups such as Royal Caribbean International.

The report was released after two survey trips to the ports and sea tourism areas in 2009 and 2010, funded by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism VNAT.

International yachts evade Vietnam because of high fees

The experts said that the long coastline should be seen as the great potential to develop cruise tourism. From the Ha Long Bay, travelers can travel on cruises along the coastline to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the islands in Nha Trang, or run along the Saigon River. The tours on yachts from the Saigon River to the beach in Phan Thiet, to the islands in Nha Trang, Hoi An and beautiful bay in Da Nang and Chan May would attract high income travelers.

However, to date, Vietnam has failed to attract the high income travelers, because of the overly high fees. As there has been no perfect legal framework applied to cruises and sea tourism, the cruises have to pay a lot of different kinds of fees, if they want to dock and stay at the Vietnamese ports. As a result, regional cruises try to make a roundabout to avoid the high fees in Vietnam.

Close cooperation needed to develop sea tourism

The Singaporean experts have suggested that relevant ministries need to sit together to discuss the sea tourism development plan, and that there should be an agency in charge of considering provincial development plans, to ensure that the development plans implemented by the provinces would not badly affect other provinces.

For example, in the near future, when many bridges linking the areas in the Saigon River basin are built, this may influence the cruise tourism industry, because big cruises would not be able to go across the bridges to enter HCM City.

HCM City is really a good tourism destination for many international cruises. However, since the day the Phu My Bridge was arisen, the ships with the heights of over 37.75 meters cannot across the Saigon River to enter the central area any more. They have to go to farer ports namely Hoa Sen or Navi Oil in district 7. Meanwhile, the new cruises which are being built, all are higher.

In the sea city of Nha Trang, the telpher system has been preventing cruises to enter the harbor, while cruises now can go ashore from the north.

Tourism ports to be developed

One of the biggest barriers to the development of cruise tourism is the lack of tourism ports capable to receive big ships and located near tourism sites. Due to the lack of tourism ports, cruise ships have to stay at commercial ports or some tourism sites, where they cannot find high quality services.

However, the Singaporean experts think that in the current conditions, it would be difficult for Vietnam to build specialized ports, because the construction would be very costly. Therefore, it would be better to use the current commercial ports as tourism ports.

The report showed an interesting detail that the Singaporean experts, while seeing the great potentials of the Phu Quoc Island, have advised that it would be better for Vietnam to maintain its cultural characteristics instead of attempting to vie to become Phuket, Bali or Koh Samui.

Source: TBKTSG

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