Perfume pagoda festival
Perfume pagoda festival, organisers of the 2008 Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival are attempting to improve the quality of the event by raising ticket prices.
The festival is a traditional Vietnamese Buddhist celebration, lasting for three months, with most activities occurring from February 6 to 19 of the lunar New Year. It takes place in My Duc District of the northern province of Ha Tay Vietnam.
Ultimately, authorities wish to eliminate thieves and improve the service, quality and sanitation of restaurants and entertainment venues, but at a cost. "Increasing the tickets is one of the way to mobilise capital to improve the service quality," said vice chairman of My Duc District’s People’s Committee Le Van Sang.
Tickets now cost VND29,500 per adult instead of the previous VND22,500, and for children, they have risen from VND11,250 to VND14,500.
Ticket prices for tours within Huong Pagoda (perfume pagoda) have also gone up. For example, Huong Tich trips went from VND20,000 to 25,000 and Long Van and Tuyet Son trips increased from VND10,000 to 15,000.
In addition to raising prices, in order to meet their goals, My Duc established a steering committee and a 2008 Perfume pagoda festival organising committee focused specifically on infrastructure and security.
Since 2007, My Duc’s People’s Committee has invested in widening Trinh Temple’s landing place, building a new road from Thien Tru to Huong Tich cave and building three public toilets and three police stations with a total combined capital of more than VND7bil (437,500US$).
The widening of the road is an attempt to resolve one problem that has been plaguing the event for years: traffic. The investment management board is working on the route from Tro landing place to Thien Tru courtyard, but it is not yet complete.
However, Le Kim Ngan at the head office of the district’s People’s Committee expressed confidence that such improvements would remedy the problem. "The recent improvements to Thien Tru-Giai Oan-Huong Tich, which began operation in 2006, will help reduce the traffic jams during the festival."
Stalls and restaurants have been barred from the front of Huong Tich cave to decrease traffic.
To deal with boat traffic, around 3,617 boats, over 600 more than were operational in 2006, have been licensed so passengers will have consistently priced, regular access.
To ensure security, approximately 100 police and security staff will work the event, and a police station exists on each main road.
"Activities spreading information to regional residents about appropriate, civilised conduct will be increased," said vice director of Ha Tay’s Culture and Information Department Duong Ky Lan.
In response to the changes Tran Thi Huong from Dong Da District said, "Last year I had trouble with parking because of the crowds. Clearly the number of visitors to the festival is increasing, and I’m not sure they can sort it out." Nguyen Thanh Son, a resident from Hai Ba Trung District said, "I like attending the festival but I’m always scared of being ripped off and pick pocketed... So I don’t mind paying more money to get better service."
However, Le Van Sang said, "This is our target and our duty. We are not sure we can accomplish the goals, but with great determination, we hope we can satisfy visitors at the festival."
Located on the limestone rocks of Huong Son Mountain, the pagodas are 70km or around a two-hour drive from Hanoi. After the opening ceremony on February 6, tourists and pilgrims take three main tours: Huong Tich Cave Pagoda, Long Van Pagoda and Tuyet Son Pagoda in Huong Son in the historical complex.
Visitors tour the area while apricot trees are in bloom, paying tribute to Buddha as well as Avalokitesvara, one of his disciples.
In 2005, around 350,000 people joined in the festival, and the number increased to 900,000 in 2007. In 2008, perfume pagoda Festival hopes to welcome one million visitors.
(Source: Viet Nam News)