Tourists will soon be able to set foot on the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, with a pilot tour package scheduled to sail to the Vietnamese islands later this month.
Ho Chi Minh City’s departments of tourism and transportation and several leading tour organizers have been assigned to study the feasibility of offering tours to Truong Sa, according to a recent announcement by the municipal administration.
A pilot tour to Truong Sa will be launched on June 22 to draw experience and pave the way for official packages in the future, the administration said.
Truong Sa is an island district of Khanh Hoa Province, located in the south-central coastal region of Vietnam.
The front side of Truong Sa Lon Island, part of Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, with a berth. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The Department of Tourism has also been tasked with collaborating with relevant agencies to prepare the plan to develop sea and island tourism for the 2015-2020 period.
The city also asked the Saigon Newport Corporation, one of the biggest container terminal operators in Vietnam, to seek permission from the Ministry of Defense and Vietnam’s navy to deploy vessels to bring tourists to Truong Sa.
Two travel firms, namely Saigontourist and Tan Cang Offshore Travel JSC, are tasked with calculating to set tour prices that are reasonable enough to attract tourists.
The plan to offer tour packages to Truong Sa has been warmly welcomed by members of the public and tourist industry insiders, as well as leaders of Khanh Hoa.
“Khanh Hoa wholly supports Ho Chi Minh City's plan and hopes to cooperate to expand the tours,” said Nguyen Tan Tuan, one of the province’s leaders.
With infrastructure being continuously improved, Truong Sa is totally capable of welcoming tourists, who are eager to travel to the country’s sacred islands with beautiful natural landscapes, he added.
“I really appreciate the idea of organizing tours to Truong Sa and believe it will soon be realized,” said Ha Van Sieu, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Sieu said sea and island tourism is the key product in the development strategy of the country’s tourist industry, adding that “Truong Sa, as part of Vietnam’s sovereignty, is an attractive destination [in this plan].”
The VNAT official, however, admitted there were initial difficulties in organizing tours to Truong Sa, and Ho Chi Minh City’s plan will help solve these issues.
Tran Viet Hung, general director of Fiditour, a Ho Chi Minh City-based tour organizer, believed the meaningful tours to Truong Sa will attract many tourists.
“Vietnamese people always wish to be able to visit the country’s sacred islands,” he said.
Another industry insider, Tran Xuan Hung, director of Viking Travel Co., shares the same belief.
“The Truong Sa tour will surely be a success as Vietnamese beaches are very beautiful,” Hung said.
Tourists will be able to enjoy the beauty of Vietnam’s seas and islands, and meet and play with residents and soldiers there.
A lighthouse on Truong Sa Lon Island. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Bui Van Thiep, a businessman based in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City, said when the Truong Sa packages are offered, he will be among the first customers.
“Then I can also offer tours to Truong Sa as a bonus for my employees,” he said.
“I just can’t wait to know more about the tours, as to when they will be launched and how we will get there, plus the costs.”