Vietnam port owner plans to sting tourists for extra cash

By VnExpress   October 17, 2016 | 01:31 am PT
Vietnam port owner plans to sting tourists for extra cash
Part of the Tuan Chau International Port. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
Visitors to World Heritage Site Halong Bay will have yet another fee to pay.

A private company that operates the only port for tourist boats in Ha Long Bay plans to charge entrance fees for tourists from November 1.

Tuan Chau Group, the investor and operator of the Tuan Chau International Port in Ha Long Bay, said in a note to ship owners and travel companies that from November 1-December 31, passengers will have to pay VND40,000 ($1.76) each for return tickets or VND20,000 (88 cents) for one-way tickets for boat tours from the port.

A representative from the port said the note has been sent to more than 300 cruise companies and over 1,000 travel companies.

Tuan Chau Port receives from 4,000-10,000 passengers a day.

The group said the fee was approved by the Ministry of Finance and the provincial government in Quang Ninh in September, VietnamPlus has reported.

From January 1, 2017, Tuan Chau will no longer have to seek approval from the local government and will set its own fees based on the Law on Price, the news site quoted its source as saying.

The note has come as a surprise to tourists, ship owners and travel companies, according to VietnamPlus.

Dao Anh Tuan, director of Au Lac Limited Company, a subsidiary of Tuan Chau Group, said the fee is necessary because the investor needs to take back the money it has poured into the construction of the port.

The group claims it has invested around VND10 trillion ($440 million) to construct the port.

From November 1 tourists taking boat cruises to visit the bay will have to pay the following fees: port entrance, bay visiting, cave visit (optional) and boat hire.

But Bui Duc Long, owner of the Huong Hai Junk Cruise Boat, said the fees are unreasonable and Tuan Chau should claw back its investment from boat companies and other service providers in the port, not tourists.

Nguyen Van Son, director of the Quang Ninh subsidiary of Victoria Corp, a local travel firm, also agreed the entrance fees are unreasonable. He said his company will have to pay for the extra fees because many contracts with partners, which do not include the fees, are still valid for a year.

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