The number of foreign tourists coming to Ho Chi Minh City on cruise ships remains relatively low because of a lack of ports for cruise ships, according to tourism experts.
Many cruise ships have to dock at the neighbouring province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau because of the lack of harbours in the city. The current cruise terminal at Phu My Bridge across the Saigon River has a vertical clearance of 45 metres, allowing only small ships with a capacity of fewer than 1,000 passengers.
Large ships carrying thousands of passengers have to dock at Rau Qua, Navi Oil, and Hiep Phuoc ports which are too busy receiving container ships, their major function. There is no space for cruise ships at these ports. Large cruise ships have to anchor at Ba Ria- Vung Tau province and cruise passengers must travel by bus to HCM City.
Earlier last month, Saigontourist Travel Service Company welcomed 3,600 passengers on the World Dream cruise ship, which arrived at Tan Cang-Cai Mep Port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
Passengers left the port by bus for a brief visit to HCM City before leaving for the coastal city of Nha Trang in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.
Talking to local media, Phan Xuan Anh, Chairman of Viet Excursions, said that thousands of passengers would spend more money if large cruise ships stayed overnight in HCM City.
If cruise ships dock at Ba Ria- Vung Tau, they visit HCM City and leave within a day, Anh said.
Vo Anh Tai, Deputy General Director of Saigontourist, said that last year the company received 210 cruise ships visiting HCM City, Ba Ria- Vung Tau, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Thua Thien-Hue and Ha Long, with more than 400,000 tourists and crew members, an increase of 30 per cent compared to the previous year.
Besides a lack of cruise ports, travel-related services such as tax-free shops, money-exchange stores as well as entertainment and shopping centres should be created or improved to offer cruise passengers more spending options, Tai said.
La Quoc Khanh, Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Tourism, underscored the rising trend in cruise tourism around the world.
He said the lack of ports with sufficient capacity to serve large ships was due to a failure in cooperation between the Ministry of Transport and local authorities.