Quang Ninh, Halong looks to tap tours potential
Quang Ninh authorities have begun a long-term tours investment plan that hopes to see Ha Long City emerge into a world class tourist destination.
Ha Long City, the jumping off point to world heritage site Ha Long Bay, hopes to receive 4.7mil tourists by 2015 with 2.2mil of them being foreigners.
In order to reach the hoped-for targets, the provincial People's Committee will focus investment capital on expanding tourism venues and developing infrastructure.
According to Quang Ninh Tourism Department, the local tourism sector has progressed in many facets including investment in infrastructure development, service quality and diversification of tourism products.
To date there are more than 10,000 rooms available in the province, and more than 350 ships that carry tours of the renowned bay.
Investors keen to cash in on the area's potential have been estimated to have pumped over US$2bil into tourism in the city and the bay. That increase in investment capital has in turn attracted a higher number of tourists.
The province received nearly 2.5mil visitors in 2005, with about 1mil of their being foreign nationals. Over the last decade the average rise in visitor numbers and spending has increased annually by 20-25%.
Plans are afoot to invest more in infrastructure of the area with a road from National Highway 18A to Yen Tu Mountain, a road from Dong Trieu Intersection to the Tran Royal Tombs and an international harbour at Hon Gai, all slated for completion.
As well as utilising funds from the national tourism infrastructure development programme, the province will earmark money from its own budget to invest in further infrastructure projects.
Potentials and challenges
Vu The Binh, director of the Vietnam Administration of Tourism's Travel Department, said although the province had many advantages, Ha Long tourism was still facing shortcomings and challenges.
Binh said that the province had focused investment on tourism infrastructure including hotels, restaurants and boats in the Ha Long and Bai Chay areas which attracted the most tourists.
Binh said a poorly planned string of hotels in Bai Chay had wreck havoc on the natural landscape of the area.
Another area of concern facing planners is the rapid expansion of tourism infrastructure in Ha Long and Bai Chay while occupancy is decreasing. Experts fear that this may lead to investor confidence issues in the future, while environmental damage occurring in Bai Chay, Tuan Chau and Bai Tu Long Island could spread to Van Don, Quan Lai and Co To exacerbating the problem.
Most observers agreed that the majority of tourism products offered in Ha Long City were not up to par with other world famous tourism destinations.
Generally, Quang Ninh has focused on explotting available natural resources rather than systematically investing in other tourism products.
Binh said Ha Long Bay was recognised as a world heritage site for its unique geological formations but local authorities had only made three caves available to tourists.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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