Quang Ninh government rejects tour fee hike in Halong Bay
Given the objections of travel firms, the Quang Ninh government on October 25 wrote to the Halong Bay Management Board, asking it to suspend a fee hike for visitors to Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.
A view of Halong Bay. The Quang Ninh government on October 25 wrote to the Halong Bay Management Board, asking it to suspend fee hike for visitors to Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay –
The move is aimed at drawing visitors to tourist destinations in the province.
The provincial government also told the board to continue introducing the local tourist spots to domestic and international tourists and to enhance the quality of tourism products to raise the number of tourist arrivals in the province.
“The Quang Ninh government has ordered the suspension of the plan to hike tour fees,” Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of Quang Ninh’s Department of Tourism, confirmed with the Saigon Times today, October 25.
Earlier, on October 24, many travel firms were surprised by the board’s letter requesting feedback on its draft scheme to raise the fees for visitors to the two bays.
Under the draft scheme, from January next year, the tour fees will soar by up to 70%.
With the scheme, the board seeks to almost double the sightseeing and accommodation fee for each tourist, from VND550,000 to VND950,000 per night, while the two-day fee would rocket from VND750,000 to VND1.2 million per visitor.
Many travel firms voiced their opposition to the steep hike, noting that the fee hike will send tour prices up, discouraging tourists from visiting the bay and reducing the competitiveness of Halong Bay.
Besides this, the tour operators complained that the notice period for the proposed hike was too short, causing them to suffer losses from multiple tour contracts they had already signed.
Phan Xuan Anh, a representative of a boat tour operator, stated, “If in the next three months, the fees for visitors to Halong Bay pick up, we will have to dip into our pockets to pay for the higher fees.”
Many tour contracts with foreign shipping lines have been signed at least one year in advance, so it is impossible to inform them of the hike and raise the tour prices, Anh said.
Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel, noted that the steep hike in tour fees was unreasonable as no extra services or better conditions were being offered.
“If the hike is approved, it will make Halong Bay shut down, damaging the Vietnamese tourism sector,” he remarked.
Halong Bay, the country’s leading tourist destination for local and international visitors, welcomed 4.13 million tourists last year, with 2.8 million international tourist arrivals, according to the website of the Halong Bay Management Board.
Between January and September this year, over 3.4 million holidaymakers, with 2.06 million foreign visitors, went on tour in Halong Bay. Currently, over 500 tourist boats are operating in the bay. SGT