The ministry presented the plan at a workshop on Vietnam’s sea tourism development strategy in Hue last week. This plan contains adjustments to the country’s seaport system development by 2020 with an orientation towards 2030.
Under the plan, upgrades will be done with six groups of seaports, namely Hon Gai in the northern province of Quang Ninh; Chan May in Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Sa in Danang, Dam Mon and Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa in central Vietnam; Sao Mai-Ben Dinh in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and a tourist wharf in the Saigon-Nha Be river system in HCMC and Mui Dat Do in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.
After the upgrades, those seaports are expected to meet conditions for handling international cruise ships with designed capacities of 50,000-100,000 DWT.
At the seminar, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said coastal tourist spots accounted for up to 70% of the total in Vietnam and attracted nearly half of the total number of travelers.
However, the number of foreign cruise passengers to Vietnam remains low, accounting for only 193,300 out of the more than 7.5 million international visitors to Vietnam last year. The country had a few tourist wharfs for international cruise passengers and these facilities were poorly equipped although the country had a coastline stretching more than 3,200 kilometers with 39 seaports planned, Tuan said.
Larger cruise ships are being designed and built, with many having a capacity of up to 200,000 DWT, according to representatives of many Asian cruise lines at the seminar. Therefore, these cruise operators were concerned that Vietnam could hardly catch up with global sea tourism development with the seaport zoning plan targeting cruise ships with a maximum capacity of 100,000 DWT.
Kevin Leong, chairman of the Asia Cruise Association (ACA), named the destinations attractive to cruise excursions in Asia as Hong Kong, China’s Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea’s Jeju, Thailand’s Phuket and Vietnam’s Halong Bay. A majority of cruise excursions lasted about one week, with Chinese tourists making up 16% of the total, Kevin said.
As Asian tourists preferred destinations with a vast array of activities, onshore tourism services should be arranged to cater to their demand, he suggested.
Other participants at the seminar also urged local authorities to improve the current time-consuming entry procedures to attract more foreign cruise passengers.
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