Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
HCM City: Breakthroughs in River-Based TourismPosted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
With the establishment of the Artist village destination (in District 2) more than one year ago, HCMC has since then launched the river-based tourism product. Together with the acceleration of investment and construction as well as exploitation of various attractive types of tourism and tourist destinations, river-based tourism in HCMC is expecting new breakthroughs.
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With the advantageous location along the river, ownership of the world’s biosphere reserves – Can Gio mangrove forest, HCMC has identified eco, relaxation and river-based tourism as major products to be developed and focused on. This is the policy and passion of tourism practitioners in HCMC. However, it took a long time for river-based tourism to be formed. Even the development and putting into exploitation the Artist village destination has not reassured tourism practitioners.
The results of a recent survey and mission in Can Gio of Ms Nguyen Thi Hong, Deputy Chairwoman of HCMC People’s Committee reveals that river-based tourism has become more effective since the route to explore Can Gio mangrove forest was successfully launched and exploited. Projects to develop swallow raising model in combination with tourism development in Tam Thon Hiep commune, Can Gio district… have really helped improve the potential of river-based tourism in HCMC.
Mr Phan Xuan Anh, Director of Viet Excursions Company which is a pioneer in taking tourists arriving by ship to explore Can Gio forest by river route, shares that during the past five months, the company has experimented launching of two tourist routes at subregion 2 (near the Thi Vai river): (1) tourists row kayak into the forests, visit salt marshes and climb up Giong Chua mountain; and (2) tourists travel on boats, listening to on-site guides’ narration. The company was challenged with many difficulties during the early days, particularly with the second route since tourist guides lacked knowledge of the fauna and floral of the mangrove forest or boatmen did not well select appropriate places to drop tourists during the route. It was until the fourth operation, were such obstacles overcome.
These two routes can be said to be quite successful. Viet Excursions has taken some 1,000 tourists arriving by ship (mainly Germans and Americans) to join these routes.
Mr Phan Xuan Anh believes that Can Gio needs to make more investment in tourism development. Can Gio should aim at more luxurious tourists in addition to its existing masses. Service and personnel must also be of higher quality. Foreign tourists are really keen on exploring Can Gio but they do not find many souvenirs to buy home. As such, it is necessary that Can Gio tourism invest more in developing souvenir and handicraft products. In addition, the fast growing swallow raising model in Can Gio also promises to provide an appealing product of river-based tourism, in particular and of HCMC, in general.
Phi Long Ship Building JSC (in Tam Thon Hiep commune, Can Gio district) has prepared its plan to develop the swallow raising area to 50 hectares and to establish Vietnam Bird’s Nests Exhibition Center for tourism exploration. It is also proposing to construct wharfs and open the transportation route to serve tourists taking Can Gio – Vung Tau route…
Mr Le Van Sinh, Head of Can Gio protective forest management board, reveals that due to the features of protective forests and the troublesome legal framework, the exploitation of surface water area for tourism is quite limited. These problems need to be tackled so as to develop Can Gio tourism, including river tour.
One of important investments is planning and construction of piers at stop points. The city directed the concerned departments concerned to study the mechanism to utilize some rivers located within the boundaries of protective forests to exploit a number of services such as restaurants, surfing, sailing ... The city allows using a certain area to construct infrastructure in the planning area for ecotourism development in the protective forests. The intended area for this purpose accounts for around 2 percent -3 percent of the total tourism area.
The city has sent official request to prime minister to propose the adjustment of the term on prohibition of construction in protected areas. According to the approved adjustment of Ho Chi Minh City’s overall planning as to 2025, the protection area for biosphere reserve covers only about 6,134 ha instead of 33,000 ha.
For the period 2012-2015, the City will focus on city planning and development. Especially, investment will be made in the construction of dock systems and piers. River way will not only serve the tourism’s purpose but also meet the needs of people traveling in the city. For the year 2012-2013, the relevant units will develop a pier to serve tourism.
On that basis, the City encourages all the economic sectors to participate in investment to underpin tourism economic development. Bird nest development model bird in some communes in Can Gio District is currently applied effectively. Can Gio People's Committee has paid due attention to accelerating planning and problem tackling. The river tour-related issue is rather complicated, involving the participation of many central management units. Therefore, the local authorities need to work closely to facilitate construction procedures, particularly those related to construction of piers.
By the end of May 2012, Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and of Ho Chi Minh City is supposed to report to the City on the shaping of the route and point of river tour in order to serve as the ground for further action.