|Passengers travelling by river buses at Bạch Đằng Wharf in HCM City’s District 1. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HCM CITY — Despite significant potential for growth, river-based tourism remains underexploited due to a lack of proper investment and a legal framework for developing river cruising, a conference heard.
The city possesses valuable river-based tourism resources with an inland waterway system stretching 913 kilometres and 101 inland waterway routes, said Bùi Hòa An, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation.
These routes run through destinations in the city's downtown, making it convenient for large cruise ships to dock at Bạch Đằng wharf and Nhà Rồng - Khánh Hội port, he said at a recent conference held by the city's People's Committee.
A total of 251 inland waterway ports are operating, including 73 ports designed to serve tourists and passengers.
The city received 27.9 million domestic visitor arrivals and more than 3.1 million international visitor arrivals in the first 11 months of this year, but only 340,000 visitors opted for cruising rivers, according to the city’s Department of Tourism.
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Thảo, head of tourism resources planning and development office under the Department of Tourism, said four major rivers – Sài Gòn, Đồng Nai, Lòng Tàu and Soài Rạp – run through the city, forming a network of waterway routes connecting the city with neighbouring provinces such as Bình Dương, Tây Ninh, Đồng Nai, Long An, Tiền Giang, and Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu.
These river-based tourism resources can be converted into products to serve tourists, Thảo said.
Assoc. Prof. Vũ Anh Tuấn from the Vietnamese-German University said that State funds set aside for developing waterway infrastructure remain modest.
Proper investment from the State budget and a master plan on inland waterway development are needed to exploit the potential of river-based tourism, he said.
A representative from Saigontourist Travel Service Company proposed that a public-private partnership be vital to develop a wide range of river tourism products and services that can be readily offered to domestic and international tourists.
Bùi Xuân Cường, deputy chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that the city would focus on efforts to develop inland waterway transport and river-based tourism in the years ahead.
Legal frameworks and policies will be put in place to develop ports and docking facilities as well as attract investors to exploit inland waterway transport and river-based tourism, he said. — VNS