As the current closing time for clubs and entertainment areas in Ho Chi Minh City is proving ineffective, local experts have suggested the establishment of late-night zones they say would benefit the city’s economy.
Current regulations dictate that all bars and nightclubs in Ho Chi Minh City close by midnight, which has taken a toll on the city’s tourism industry with foreign visitors shortening their stay due to a lack of night-time activities.
As tourists often want to make the most of their travel time, their preference is for going out at night to have fun rather than staying in their hotel rooms and sleeping, Nguyen Huu Chien, deputy director of Da Nang City’s Department of Culture and Sports, said.
“Only when tourists are allowed to have fun all night long will they spend money,” he said.
Dr. Vu Hao Quang, former deputy head of the state-run Institute for Public Opinion Research, suggested that the city look to neighboring countries where late-night areas have been successfully established.
“We need a more open view on this issue in order to integrate with the world,” Dr. Quang said, while addressing concerns that such areas would threaten public security in the city and damage traditional values. “That being said, the establishment of specialized entertainment zones would make management easier than a blanket closing time that is currently ineffective.”
Quang added that those with the need to entertain themselves at bars and nightclubs after midnight are neither representative nor typical of the majority of the population and therefore would not damage traditional Vietnamese values.
“There are many entertainment areas in Thailand, for example, but they still manage to preserve their cultural identity,” Quang said.
Such areas are not only beneficial economically, they also serve as stress relievers for a portion of the population who are under constant stress in their daily lives, he added.
Nguyen Van My, chairman at local travel agency Lua Viet Tour, suggested that Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Streets in District 1 be turned into Ho Chi Minh City’s first ‘no-sleep’ street where businesses are allowed to trade all night long.
The street is already known to locals and tourists as the ‘backpacker area’ where most households open businesses to provide tourism services to travelers.
“We need to turn it into a pedestrian street and advise households in the area who do not feel comfortable to move elsewhere,” My suggested. “And I want all cities in Vietnam to follow suit as well.”
In addition to concerns about public security and preserving traditional values, some experts have pointed out that such overnight areas would give rise to unfair competition among businesses in different parts of the city.
Dr. Pham Thi Thuy, a professor at the Ho Chi Minh City National Academy of Public Administration, said lifting the closing time in certain areas without doing the same in others would interfere with the city’s healthy competitive environment.
Thuy’s concern was echoed by Ho Chi Minh City-based lawyer Nguyen Huu The Trach, who added that such a division of late-night zones and those with a specific closing time would be economically unconstitutional.
“Laws are there to safeguard everyone’s rights, not to benefit a specific group of people,” the lawyer concluded.