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Halong Bay Entrance Fees and Surcharges Increase to New Record Level

October 8, 2013 Cruise No Comments Email Email

The People’s Committee of Quang Ninh province has announced a sharp increase in the charge to visit Halong Bay, effective from 1st January 2014. The announcement confirms the long-standing concern of the travel industry and creates a dilemma for boat companies and tour operators all over the world. The increase in entrance fees and surcharges may dramatically affect the number of tourists visiting the area.

According to the new regulation, an extra fee of US$ 14 to 18/person/night will have to be paid for each tourist, depending mostly on the itinerary and excursions of each boat. This equates to a rise of 140 to 160% in comparison with 2013. The announcement regarding the new entrance fees came out late, after most of the contracts between cruise companies, local DMCs and oversea tour operators had already been signed. All parties are now discussing ways to handle the price rise.

“We are very concerned by the increase. As the largest cruise operator in Halong Bay we operate 180 cabins and up to 5,000 passengers each month. This could easily result in around a US$ 75,000 increase per month for entrance fees only. We are now looking at how we can share the burden with our travel partners in the best way possible,” said Armand Cheveux, Business Development Manager of Bhaya Cruises.

“The increase may also change profile of tourists who stay on board. The increase will make the total fee for staying overnight on board much more expensive. The tourist ticket only cost US$ 50/ night. We may see less backpacker and locals staying on board,” says Armand.

Supporters of the increase counter that the current fee system is not enough to cover the maintenance of the Unesco Heritage site. Resulting in overcrowded bay and uncontrollable pollution. Similar world heritage site in other countries such as Ankorwat, Guilin… would have much higher fees than the current level in Halong Bay.

Protesters concern that the increase would overcorrect a problem by overkill. And the golden goose that is the country’s main tourism draw would be damaged. Vietnam is experiencing a slow down on tourist arrival and the grow is already fragile. A large increase would make it cost-prohibitive for many tourists.

Halong Bay is the most popular sightseeing destination in the north of Vietnam and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and in the world’s New7Wonders of Nature in April 2012 by New Open World Corporation. According to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Quang Ninh welcomed 4.67 million visitors in the first half of 2013, a 9% year-on-year increase. Of these, foreign tourists accounted for more than 1.25 million, a decrease of 2% against the same period last year.

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