A four-day public holiday (National Liberation Day – April 30 and May Day) is upon us, and many people have already planned their trips to get away from the crowded, noisy cities and escape to faraway places with sun, sand and wind.
According to tourism companies, two weeks before the holiday most domestic tours were full, and the cost of tours had increased by 30 per cent, while the prices of aeroplane and train tickets had doubled.
Not to mention that, during the holiday, the cost of services at tourist destinations are expected to escalate to a neck-cutting level.
As for anyone wishing to travel by themselves, it is difficult for them to book hotels because many hotel owners are refusing to take bookings before the peak of the holiday when they can charge much more.
Tourists should also be prepared for overcrowded transportation and public spaces.
Tell us your experiences if you have ever been on vacation during Viet Nam's public holidays. Have you enjoyed them or has anything annoyed you?
If you are in Viet Nam at the moment, what is your plan for the coming holiday? Getting away from the everyday grind or staying at home to enjoy a movie?
Does the same situation of overcrowded tourism destinations and escalating prices take place during your public holidays? If not, how are they managed?
Emails should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, April 26.
Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers for their opinions on whether Viet Nam should bid to host the 18th Asian Games (ASIAD) in 2019, for an estimated US$150 million investment. We also wanted to know what would be the impact and benefit of hosting a global or regional sporting event and who would be the beneficiaries of the event. Here are some responses.
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
With an estimated cost of the games at US$150 million, the organisers in Viet Nam will probably have to pay a considerable portion of this expenditure, including at least half of the money, on new infrastructure. I think people will be worried that this will raise taxes and decrease spending on more important services like healthcare and housing.
The benefits from the games are not sustainable. They will perhaps create thousands of new jobs but most of these jobs will be lost after completion. New sport facilities will have little permanent value.
The games will also cause environmental pollution. From my observation, Ha Noi becomes full of rubbish after mass events such as fireworks displays, music shows, cultural exchange festivals and so on. Here we are talking about regional sporting games which will attract lots of delegations and visitors, causing major pollution, especially after the opening and closing ceremonies.
Tran Ngoc Long, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
The country is going through hard economic times. People are worried about price hikes every day. More than 23 per cent of children are suffering from malnutrition, hospitals have three patients in one bed, school pupils in mountainous areas spend VND3,000 ($0.15) a day on lunch. Thousands of enterprises have gone bankrupt. How come they plan to spend $150 million to have the games held in Viet Nam? I think such money would be better spent on building schools, medical centres and hospital upgrading or supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Also, I don't believe the estimated money is enough to host such an event. In 2003 we spent nearly double the money to organise the Southeast Asian Games, whose scale is smaller than ASIAD. Take a look at the ASIAD in China's Guangzhou in 2010 and the one in South Korea's Incheon in 2014. I heard that the money for the games reached billions of US dollars.
Lim Ming Hua, Singaporean, HCM City
Sport has always been an integral part of Asian culture and now it is also becoming an increasingly important part of the economy. The hosting of events such as the Asian Games is generally positive to a nation's economy.
In the region's sports, Viet Nam still has a modest ranking. One way to improve it is to set a clear target for the Vietnamese athlete delegation. Without hosting ASIAD 2019, Viet Nam's sports will still develop but with less motivation. I believe the hosting of the games will create a motivation for everyone to develop, from sport activities and organisation to fostering athletes.
Nguyen Thanh Quynh, Vietnamese, Tokyo
The hosting of ASIAD will be an excellent opportunity to promote Viet Nam as a peaceful, friendly, politically and socially safe country. Promoting the country's image through sporting events has never been obsolete. Winning the bid to host the games would also be an important victory, which would help enhance the prestige and reputation of Viet Nam in the international arena. From such a step, we can dream of hosting other events such as the Olympics or World Cup.
Overall, the hosting would also be an historical mark in politics, diplomacy, economy, culture and tourism. It would expand international co-operation with lots of business opportunities. I believe it would have positive impacts on society. For instance, together with the upgrading of sport facilities, the transport system and accommodation would also be synchronously upgraded to meet international standards. When hosting the games, we would also have to maintain existing sporting facilities which would avoid abandoning them.
Natalie Tolkacheva, Russian, HCM City
Hosting the ASIAD event would be good for Viet Nam, to promote its image to the region and, somehow, to the world. It would help promote tourism.
The games would also boost the economy because foreign athletes, spectators buy souvenirs and services. On the other hand, it would also help the country improve sports facilities which would be of advantage to athletes.
However, the organising committee should pay attention to some possible disadvantages such as the high cost of building new facilities and hosting fees. They should carefully calculate every expense since the money invested in the games comes from people's taxes.
Hoang Van Thinh, Vietnamese, Phu Tho Province
The organising committee should think about the practical use of sport facilities after the games. There are many gymnasiums and other sport facilities across the country which were built to serve a certain event and which now lie abandoned or misused.
Phu Tho Province is an example. A gymnasium was built in 2003 to host the handball competition of the 22th SEA Games at a total cost of VND67 billion (about $3.2 million). A VND120 billion (about $6 million) swimming pool was also built in 2008 to serve the national Phu Dong Sports Festival. Since then the gymnasium has been used for a volleyball championship once a year and the pool has been unused. Due to the hurried construction both facilities have deteriorated.
So if Viet Nam really wants to bid to host ASIAD, we should think really carefully about the expenses. — VNS