A pristine beach that has recently emerged as a new destination for visitors to the south-central Vietnamese province of Binh Dinh may fail to remain attractive to tourists due to a lack of quality services.
Holidaymakers may be captivated by the beauty of Ky Co Beach, located in the provincial capital of Quy Nhon, but they may not choose to return in their next vacation as the only tourism service provider here just lets them down with both poor services and bad attitudes.
Located some 25 kilometers from the heart of Quy Nhon, Ky Co is dubbed the “Little Maldives of Vietnam,” with three sides surrounded by mountains and the remainder fronting the sea.
Tourists can get to the destination by boat or canoe from the nearby Eo Gio (Wind Channel) or by motorbike or taxi straight from the city center.
Hoang Dat Tourism and Trading JSC is currently the only developer and operator of tourism activities at the beach.
But the only impression the company has left on visitors to Ky Co is a huge disappointment, with many tourists saying they will never return after paying their first visit.
Nothing is free
At Ky Co, Hoang Dat requires beach-goers to pay for every service, instead of just buying an all-in-one ticket.
An entrance ticket that costs VND60,000 (US$2.6) only gives tourists the ‘right’ to swim at the beach, and they have to open their wallets for other fundamental services, from taking a shower to renting a straw sun shelter.
|Visitors crowd a sun shelter at Ky Co Beach in Binh Dinh Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Ba Quyen / Tuoi Tre|
If they do not want a sun shelter, tourists will have to pay VND20,000 ($0.9) to rent a chair or buy drinks from some stalls to have a place to avoid the sun after swimming, as there are no beach benches and umbrellas for public use.
Moreover, Hoang Dat Co. does not list prices for the services it provides at the beach.
“We and other visitors have had to ask for detailed information before making any purchase,” D.H., a tourist, complained about the unprofessional business at Ky Co.
Hoang Dat Co. has collected a huge amount of money from tourists, but the company does not seem to have earmarked funds for improving services, or at least building adequate facilities.
Tuan My, a Quy Nhon local who now works as an architect in Ho Chi Minh City, said amenities at the beach are all unprofessional and poorly organized, failing to be on a par with the beautiful surrounding landscapes.
Hoang Dat director Nguyen Phu Son told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper last weekend that its pricing of VND60,000 per entrance ticket was approved by both the provincial finance and tourism departments.
Son said the company had initially asked to charge visitors higher, in exchange for some complimentary services, but the proposal had been rejected by the two departments.
|A sign informs visitors about the price of taking a freshwater shower after swimming at Ky Co Beach in Binh Dinh Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Ba Quyen / Tuoi Tre|
Addressing complaints by visitors that they had to pay to rent a straw sun shelter, Son said not all such facilities are for-rent-only at the beach.
“There are some sun shelters that visitors can use free of charge,” he added.
However, the director said the drink sellers at the beach did nothing wrong when they requested that tourists buy their beverages to be able to sit on their premises.
“It’s unfair for the vendors if people just occupy their business space without buying anything from them,” he elaborated.
On Friday last week, the provincial tourism department sent an inspection team to the tourist spot to verify complaints about its service quality.
Inspectors found that while Hoang Dat Co. did publicize prices for its services, the price lists are prepared on A4-sized papers, making it hard for visitors to notice, according to the deputy director of the tourism department Huynh Cao Nhat.
Similarly, Hoang Dat Co. does have two free-of-charge straw sun shelters, but these facilities are located at places deemed inconvenient for tourists to enjoy the sea.
The inspection team thus requested Hoang Dat to place its price lists at more visible positions, while setting up more free sun shelters.
Son, the company director, said he would follow these requirements and seriously take feedback from visitors into consideration, vowing to make changes where possible.