Hội An to resume charging admission to Old Quarter

April 06, 2023 - 20:10
According to the city's officials, 85 per cent of the revenue generated from ticket sales will be utilised for preservation, management, and owners of relics and old houses.
Tourists in the Old Quarter of Hội An. The ancient town will begin charging admission on May 15. VNS Photo Công Thành

HỘI AN — Starting on May 15, visitors to Hội An's ancient town will be required to purchase entrance tickets to explore the Old Quarter and other destinations. The one-time entrance fee will be VNĐ80,000 for domestic visitors and VNĐ120,000 for foreigners.

Ticket collection for tourists visiting the ancient town began in 1995, and the city decided to increase the ticket price in 2012 (VNĐ80,000 for Vietnamese and 120,000 for foreigners).

Between 2020-21, ticket collection was suspended due to the COVID pandemic, and only restarted in 2022, but at 50 per cent discount.

However, many tour companies are circumventing the requirement to buy tickets, leading to losses.

According to the city's officials, 85 per cent of the revenue generated from ticket sales will be used for preservation, management, and owners of relics and heritage houses.

Nguyễn Văn Lanh, vice chairman of the city's People's Committee, said that the ticket would permit tourists to visit three to six locations in the 4.2 square kilometre core area of the Old Quarter, which includes 1,273 ancient relics, temples, pagodas, and ancient houses.

He said 932 relics (84 per cent) in the old town belonged to individuals or collectives, and the cost for annual restoration and preservation is still limited.

Lanh said the city reserves from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of ticket revenue to assist old house owners in repairing their properties after annual floods and storms.

The Japanese Bridge is an iconic symbol of Hội An. The UNESCO World Heritage site is in need of preservation. VNS Photo Công Thành

"At least 65 heritage relics have yet allocated funds for restoration, including 20 in ruins that could collapse any time," Lanh said. "Meanwhile, the city has only a preservation fund generated from ticket sales."

"Instead of waiting for the city's financial support, old houses owners paid VNĐ1 trillion for repairing and protecting old architectures, which served tourism in the Old Quarter for decades."

The vice chairman warned that ticket sales suffered at least a 40 per cent loss as numerous visitors evaded buying tickets.

He blamed many travel agencies for intentionally neglecting to buy tickets for their visitors, even though entrance ticket costs are included in the tour service.

The city also set up a free entrance for residents living in the Old Quarter and another for travellers. However, guides or tour operators irresponsibly show tourists through the Old Quarter entrance, Lanh said.

The city also issued all-time package entrance tickets for long-day stay tourists in the town, and different promotions with easy visits.

A group of 15 travellers will be given one free ticket, while those under-16 will be exempt.

Visitors can enjoy night performances in the old streets, traditional cuisine and lifestyle of the local community, and shopping.

Hội An had already successfully launched community tourism activities, such as farming, fishing, boat rides and biking, cultural performances, outdoor exhibitions and photo displays from ticket sales to attract tourists visiting the town.

Free tickets for tourists visiting the ancient town are allowed on the occasion of Heritage Day (December 23) and the anniversary of Hội An's recognition as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

An old house is still well-preserved by a family in Hội An town. The Old Quarter is one of the most visited sites among domestic and international visitors in Hội An. Photo courtesy of Hội An City's Centre for Heritage Preservation and Management

According to the latest report, Hội An hosted more than 1.5 million tourists, of which 600,000 were foreigners, in 2022.

A series of positive activities have been organised from ticket income, including expanding the area of walking streets outside of the Old Quarter, night market, and non-engined vehicle streets since 2002.

Walking streets often open from 8am to 11am and from 3pm to 10pm. Motorbikes or engined vehicles are only allowed access for four hours per day and at night time.

The UNESCO World Heritage site was the first city in Việt Nam to host a Car Free Day and the first location in the central province to launch the 3-R (reduce, reuse and recycle) programme, promoting the use of reusable bags as well as the operation of a solar-powered lighting system in the city's square.

The city plans to promote bicycle use among public agencies and boost bicycle use among residents, with a goal of 100,000 local bicycles.

The town had hosted a record 5.35 million tourists, including 4 million foreigners, in 2019, but the figure declined massively during the two-year COVID-19 pandemic. — VNS