Saigon’s plan to draw tourists with weekly fireworks shows raises eyebrows

By Thien Ngon   December 5, 2016 | 12:41 pm GMT+7
Saigon’s plan to draw tourists with weekly fireworks shows raises eyebrows
Fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the Reunification Day April 30, 2016. Photo by VnExpress

Critics say the city will promote itself better by keeping the streets cleaner and safer.

Ho Chi Minh City's new tourism development plan has raised questions over its possible waste of money as it involves fireworks shows every weekend.

Dinh La Thang, the city’s top leader, said at a meeting last week that he has discussed the idea of asking businesses to sponsor the shows in the city at weekends and on holidays. The city’s Communist Party unit will work with the government on a more detailed plan.

Thang said the shows could become a major tourism attraction for the city, like the Da Nang International Fireworks Contest that is held every two years in the central city.

Grand fireworks shows are already held in the city every New Year, Lunar New Year and other major occasions like Independence Day and the commemoration of the Hung Kings, Vietnam's legendary founding fathers.

The city has raised more than VND22 billion (nearly $1 million) in sponsorship for fireworks shows this year, and VND12 billion ($530,000) for the upcoming Lunar New Year's Eve shows.

However, many people have questioned whether more fireworks shows are what the city needs right now.

The idea has been published by various media outlets, and local readers have blasted it as “bad” and “wasteful”.

Sydney holds fireworks shows almost every Saturday, but many said the idea is too ambitious for HCMC.

Some said even if the money does not come from the state budget, funding is needed for more pressing problems such as traffic jams, flooding, pollution and the lack of schools and hospitals.

They also said that until these issues are resolved, no amount of fireworks shows will make the city more attractive.

Businesses will give themselves a better name if they invest in cleaning up the city or reducing street theft, one said.

Ho Chi Minh City is a popular destination as a modern commercial center, but also has a lot of history that can be seen at places like the War Remnants Museum and the Independence Palace. Foreign tourists to HCMC in the first six months increased 12.2 percent on-year to more than 2.4 million, creating revenue of nearly $2.2 billion.

The city ranks 18th among the 20 fastest growing tourist cities in the world, with 9.22 percent annual growth since 2009, according to a September survey by MasterCard.

The city is also seeking private investors to develop a floating market as a new tourism attraction, following the famous markets in the Mekong Delta.

Related news:

Ho Chi Minh City plans floating market to boost tourism

Hanoi, Saigon among fastest-growing tourist cities in the world

Vietnamese gov't to squeeze more cash out of major cities

 
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