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Vietnam halts plan to raise Ha Long Bay entrance fees after backlash

Friday, October 25, 2019, 18:15 GMT+7
Vietnam halts plan to raise Ha Long Bay entrance fees after backlash
Tourist boats travel in Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Photo: Chi Tue / Tuoi Tre

The administration of the northern province of Quang Ninh, home to Vietnam’s famed Ha Long Bay, has abruptly suspended a plan to raise admission charges for the tourist attraction after facing backlash from local travel firms.

The management board of Ha Long Bay on Tuesday sent a fee hike proposal to companies offering tours to Ha Long Bay and the nearby Bai Tu Long Bay.

Under the proposal, the fee for each of the five same-day sightseeing routes in Ha Long Bay will be hiked by 20-25 percent, to up to VND300,000 (US$12.9) per visitor.

Likewise, the fees for overnight routes will be lifted by 60-73 percent, to up to VND1.2 million ($51.66) per person.

The highest price hike was planned for a route offering a one-night stay in Ha Long Bay with stops at the Trong Cave, Trinh Nu Cave, Dong Tien Lake, Lat 690 Islet, and Ti Top Island.

The fee for this route was sought to be increased by 73 percent, from VND550,000 ($273.65) to VND950,000 ($45.15).

A photo captures the proposal for fee increase sent to travel firms on October 22, 2019
A photo captures the proposal for increasing fees to Ha Long Bay sent to travel firms on October 22, 2019.

According to the Ha Long Bay management board, the fee raise is meant to prevent tourists from overcrowding the famed destination.

If approved, the fee changes will be effective from January 2020.

Local tour operators were given only three days to send their feedback on the proposal to the Ha Long Bay management board.

However, the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh on Friday ordered the attraction’s management board to call off the plan as a number of travel firms have expressed disapproval of it.

According to these companies, both the price surge and its effective date are unreasonable and too sudden for them to make any changes to their tour packages.

The companies said that they have already published their quotations for tours to Ha Long until 2021.

A photo captures the proposal for fee increase sent to travel firms on October 22, 2019
A photo captures the proposal for fee increase sent to travel firms on October 22, 2019

The travel firms thus complained that they will be subject to loss, given the fact that they will have less than three months to redesign their tours before the fee surge comes into effect.

“They don’t make such a sudden change in any other country,” said Tu Quy Thanh, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Lien Bang Travel Ltd.

“In other countries, such price changes usually become valid at least six months or up to a year [after they are announced],” Thanh added.

This is not the first time the Ha Long Bay management board has proposed raising the entrance fees for visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A similar elevation was suggested in July 2018, while the visiting fees were raised for the first time in April 2017.

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