Vietnam tourism on the border line
2009-11-16 (GMT + 7)
Vietnam is looking to its neighbours to provide more tourism as well as opening up options for those from further afield.
Travelers flocking across border
Vietnam has nearly 4,550 kilometres of borders with China, Laos and Cambodia and has 42 border gates. By the end of September this year Vietnam had received 447,000 cross border travelers - mostly from China.
In the golden age, 2004-2005, Vietnam witnessed a boom in the number of tourists through its border gates with 800,000.
Under the new regulations, tourists from other third countries can even drive vehicles themselves through the gates. In the last three years, 2006-2008, Vietnam received 3,500 vehicles of different kinds driving through its borders.
The sheer size of China means it remains the country with the most untapped market.
Luu Duc Ke, Director of Hanoitourism, is pleased with the great strides taken in opening up the borders but is troubled by what “dumping” from Chinese tour companiesKe says that ultra low prices are being offered to tourists which means that once they cross the border costs are cut so hard their trip is affected.
“They are scrambling for travelers by dumping on the market,” said Ly Mon, director of Ha Long Travel Firm.
National tourism body VNAT calls it a kind of ‘swindling’ in tourism and says it must be stopped.
What to do to attract more cross-border tourists?
Participants at the workshop on border tourism held in Lang Son province on November 6, 2009 emphasised that the first thing provinces need to do to attract travelers is to improve infrastructure.
Director of the Lang Son province Culture, Tourism and Sports Department Hoang Van Tao said that Lang Son needs some hundreds of billions of dong to build roads for tourism sites. The current road is just 3.5 metres wide which does not fit 50-seat buses. Therefore, travelers have to get into smaller buses when traveling to some places.
Vu The Binh, a senior official of the Vietnam National Tourism Administration, agreed that the bumpy roads cannot attract many travelers. Especially, the roads in the central region which suffer landslides in flood season.
Meanwhile, Tao from Lang Son province authorities says they must get better at receiving their guests. The Huu Nghi border gate in Lang Son province, for example, can receive 20 travelers at a time – not the thousands that it needs to