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 operators, local destination management companies (DMCs) 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 DMC partners in the best way possible. I recommend tour operators take the time to finalise their series/group allotment to Halong Bay as soon as possible.” said Armand Cheveux, Business Development Manager of Bhaya Cruises.
Halong Bay is the most popular sightseeing destination in the north of Vietnam and was recognised 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.