WITH THE FLOW: HCM City sees waterway tourism as a way to revive the tourism industry. VNA/VNS Photo
Waterway tourism is one of the new products that HCM City is promoting in order to facilitate recovery of its tourism industry.
Waterway tours are expected to provide new, attractive experiences to visitors, officials said.
The city tourism industry has already launched several river tours including: Bạch Đằng - District 7, Bạch Đằng - District 9, Bạch Đằng - Bình Quới, Bạch Đằng - Củ Chi, and Bạch Đằng - Cần Giờ District.
Last month, the city launched a cruise tour along the Sài Gòn River, allowing visitors panoramic views of both sides of the city as well as architectural features of a rapidly growing urban metropolis.
The new tour has the involvement of many companies looking to tap waterway tourism potential.
The three-hour tour departs from the marina at Lan Anh Villas in Thủ Đức City and sails past major landmarks like the Nhà Rồng Wharf, the Bạch Đằng Wharf, Ba Son Port, Landmark 81, Việt Nam’s tallest building, and the Thủ Thiêm 2 Bridge.
The tour costs VNĐ5 million to VNĐ10 million (US$216-$432). Visitors are served cocktails, wine and pastries that they can enjoy while listening to live saxophone and violin performances.
NIGHTLIFE: A couple takes a photograph on a water bus plying the Sài Gòn River in HCM City. Photo: tuoitre.vn
"Other river tours only offer a trip to enjoy the beauty of the city by waterways, but this one has very good food and beverages as well," said Giang Bích Thuận, who enjoyed the new tour.
Each tour can accommodate 10 to 25 passengers.
Adding to the cruise’s scenic delights and the cool breeze are a deluxe afternoon tea service, fine champagne and other treats.
According to the Saigon Yacht Club, Việt Nam has great potential to develop the yachting industry and can catch up with fast-growing markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai in the near future.
SETTING SAIL: The yacht that cruises the Sài Gòn River. Photo: HCM City's Department of Tourism
Nguyễn Thị Ánh Hoa, director of HCM City Department of Tourism, said one of their orientations was to develop a variety of city tours on the road, in the air, on the water, and on the metro.
"The tour to see HCM City from the Sài Gòn River in a yacht serves domestic and international tourists, especially the middle and high-class segments," she said.
Nguyễn Minh Mẫn, director of Communications-Marketing of TST Tourist company, said that luxury yacht tours had great potential to attract customers because they are a new, high-class product.
"People have wanted to cruise along the Sài Gòn River for a long time, so the introduction of luxury tours will meet this demand," he added.
Cao Văn Tùng, director of the Bến Thành Tourist company, felt that travel time on the river should be shortened and the focus be on customer experience.
"Most tourists will not enjoy sitting for hours on the boat just to watch the cityscape, they will want to enjoy more unique experiences," Tùng said.
Travel companies should connect waterway tours with regional attractions like Củ Chi District (HCM City) and Bình Dương City, he added.
Luxury cruises are not aimed merely at renewing the city’s tourism products, but to expand the customer base, targeting the high-income segment in particular, according to Lê Trương Hiền Hòa, deputy director of the municipal tourism authority.
Besides the cruise along the Sài Gòn River, the city also has waterbus tours throughout the day and night. Passengers can buy tickets at its two stations or online for VNĐ15,000 ($0.65) one-way ticket.
Besides peaceful, scenic night view sightseeing and music performances, the water bus service also offers snacks to passengers purchasing package tours, said Nguyễn Kim Toàn, Thường Nhất Company’s director.
“In my opinion, the night bus is a memorable experience for people and an opportunity for many generations to access the culture and history of the city, in addition to a being a multi-functional means of public transport to reduce traffic pressure on roads.”
HCM City hopes to receive 25 million domestic and 3.5 million foreign tourists this year for revenues of VNĐ97.7 trillion. VNS