Vu The Binh, head of the travel department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that Singapore consultants and entrepreneurs would survey a sea route from the central city of Danang to Nghe An to find suitable locations for cruise terminals. This survey follows a similar trip to other destinations in the country last year.
“Along with this assistance, Singapore will share experiences in operating cruise terminals as well as discuss cooperation between the two countries’ tourism companies to woo international cruise passengers,” he said.
Vietnam’s tourism officials in 2008 went to Singapore to work with the Singapore Tourism Board and a Singapore cruise company to learn ways how to develop the cruise industry. These activities are part of a cooperation agreement between the two sides to develop the cruise tourism industry for Vietnam as well as to set up a circle route from Hong Kong to Singapore and Vietnam.
Binh said that the plan to build terminals for cruise ships now enjoy good conditions as the Prime Minister has approved a master plan to build the seaport system for Vietnam, under which some cruise ports will be built in the years to come.
“The important thing is that we find the best locations for such terminals. That’s why we need to cooperate with Singapore to learn from their experiences,” Binh said.
He said the tourism sector would meet with the Ministry of Communications and Transport about such developments.
Cooperation between Singapore and Vietnam to develop cruise tourism in Southeast Asia was also mentioned during the Vietnam trip this month by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Tourism officials have proposed sea routes for cruise tourism from Singapore to Malaysia and on to Thailand and Vietnam before ending up in Hong Kong.
Vietnam has a huge potential to develop cruise tourism, as the country is situated between North and South Asia, and is in close proximity with two cruise hubs of the region namely Singapore and Hong Kong.
However, the cruise industry in the country is still underdeveloped. Vietnam welcomed nearly 300,000 cruise passengers in 2002 but after since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 the number has fallen strongly to even under 100,000 passengers last year.
There are no cruise terminals in the country for cruise ships, and international cruise ships have to drop anchor at cargo ports.