HCM CITY — Traditional music performances on floating stages on the Huong (Perfume) River need revamping if local authorities want to attract more visitors to the former imperial city of Hue, insiders have said.
|Sweeping changes: Singers perform Hue folksongs on the Perfume River. However, conflict between boat owners and authorities are beginning to deter tourists. — File photo
Ca Hue, or the Hue folksong music, is played aboard these boats on the River every night by music troupes arranged by the boat owners.
It has always been popular, helping take the Hue art to foreigners visiting the former imperial city.
However, it has been plagued by many problems – unprofessional organisation, foreigners complaining about being cheated with short shows, low-quality performances, and rude behaviour by the boat crew.
Cultural authorities decided it was enough and brought in sweeping changes with effect from January 8 – performers need certificates from cultural authorities to be on the shows, each show has to be of a certain minimum duration, the boat owners cannot hire the troupes but have to use ones sent by the Centre for Ca Hue Performance Management.
The boats also have to deposit half of the expected collections of a show with the centre and cancel a show if it is delayed by 30 minutes.
Boat owners often cancel and delay shows without advance notice.
The owners are opposed to the changes, saying they face losses if they have to forfeit their deposits if shows are cancelled for delays.
Vo Van Rot, a boat manager, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he did not want the centre to allocate performers since he had been doing this for 20 years and knew which troupes were the best.
Last Friday, all boat owners refused to accept tourists or art troupes on board.
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has backtracked at least partially, telling the centre to postpone compliance of the deposit rule. The boats called off their protests the next day, but the standoff continues.
Nguyen Tan Ton Nu Y Nhi, a ca Hue performer, told Viet Nam News that she would prefer the shows to be managed by the centre and for it to designate performers.
"That will help us have elegant shows, not the messy ones like now," she said.
Nguyen Tan Thuong, the centre's director, admitted however that not all performers supported the proposal.
A local tour guide told Viet Nam News that most boat managers did not care about the quality of the shows, only their income.
A revamp was the only way to bring tourists back, he said. — VNS