Vietnam loses chance of earning from cruise tourism

Cruise tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of Asian countries’ tourism industry whereas its growth rate in Vietnam just makes up 2- 3 percent annually while with long coastline, the country should be a natural market for the industry.

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Being one of leading companies in the industry, Saigontourist has taken heed of cruise tourism. In 2018, the agent welcomed around 475,000 international holiday-makers , a year-on-year increase of 12 percent.

Apart from that, in just two first months of the year, Saigontourist served large procession of visitors. It has led a group of 3,500 Hong Kong ( Chinese) visitors to the central city of Da Nang or Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh and the capital city of Hanoi in cruise ship World Dream.

Before, Saigontourist had served travelers in five-star cruise ships Celebrity Millennium and Dream World with 11,500 British, French, American and Hong Kong paying visits to the country’s landscape.

Most of cruise passengers are middle-class people who spend more in their trip; nevertheless, they just spend $100 for on-shore visit during 9-11 hours. Shopping centers in Vietnam are not as attractive as its peers in other countries in Asia. Subsequently, cruise passengers just spend hundred thousands of Vietnam dong on several souvenir items and then they go to neighboring countries. It’s a big waste for Vietnam’s tourism.

Furthermore, Vietnam has had no luxury service to meet billionaires’ demand. For instance, Phan Xuan Anh from Tan Hong Cruise tourist said a billionaire refused a shore excursion because his company failed to meet his demand of helicopter, super vehicle and luxury services.

Last but not least, insufficient port infrastructure have kept cruise tourism of Ho Chi Minh City particularly and the country generally at bay. Presently, only Ha Long Port in the northern province of Quang Ninh which was inaugurated in the end of 2018 was designed to host cruise ships whereas most other ports were built for shared use by cargo and cruise ships.

An adviser of the Royal Caribbean International Cruise line Ha Bich Lien said though cruise ships dock in Phu My Port in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, passengers expect to visit Ho Chi Minh City as top priority.

However, the port could not handle more cruise ships; consequently, just two cruise ships Mein Schiff and five other ships of Royal Caribbean International Cruise could enter the port.

Ms. Lien said that in three first months of the year, 12 cruise ships carrying 36,000 passengers are expected to dock at Phu My port and their destination is Ho Chi Minh City.

Accordingly, cooperation between the HCMC Department of Tourism and related agencies is needed to push up cruise tourism, said a leader of the department.