Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s sea tourism sector has reported annual growth of only 2 per cent to 3 per cent, while other Asian countries have witnessed robust growth in cruise tourism in recent years.
In 2018, Saigontourist Travel Service Co provided services to about 474,000 cruise travellers, up by 12 per cent compared with 2017.
In the first two months of this year, the company welcomed big groups of cruise travelers including 3,500 Chinese visitors from Hong Kong who came on the World Dream Cruise Ship, and more than 11,500 travellers from Hong Kong, the US, UK and France on board cruise ships such as the Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Millennium and World Dream.
Saigontourist Travel Service Co took the cruise travellers to visit famous tourist sites across Việt Nam.
According to the manager of a travel service company headquartered in HCM City, most cruise travelers are from middle-class families that have few occasions to spend their money on cruise ships. Each of them spend an average of US$100 during their 10-hour trip ashore.
However, the souvenir shops and business centres at the places these cruise travelers visited were not attractive to them, the manager said.
Ports for cruise ships
Authorities are concerned about the lack of wharves in Việt Nam and HCM City in particular for cruise ships, which have to dock at cargo piers that serve cargo ships.
The country now has only one harbour for cruise ships, which was built and opened in the northern province of Quảng Ninh in late 2018.
Hà Bích Liên, advisor at Royal Caribbean Cruises Tld, noted that HCM City is the major destination for cruise travelers to Việt Nam, though cruise ships have to dock at Phú Mỹ Port in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province, which is busy receiving container ships.
In the first three months of the year, Phú Mỹ Port is expected to welcome 12 cruise trips, bringing in about 36,000 visitors.
Liên said the lack of ports for large ships to dock prevents more cruise passengers from coming to HCM City. The city has thus missed a chance to attract high-spending cruise passengers, mostly from Europe, who spend an average of US$100 a day, she added.
The city’s authorities should quickly resolve this problem, she said.
According to a spokesman for the HCM City Department of Tourism, while awaiting construction of a port for cruise ships in the city, these ships will continue to dock at ports in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province. Passengers from the cruise ships are then transported to HCM City by bus.
With such services provided to cruise passengers, HCM City and Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu lose a lot of money because they are not earning big profits from these services, according to Phan Xuân Anh, an advisor from Tân Hồng Travel Co.—VNS