After spending 3 days visiting and attending the “Da Lat – The Flower Festival City” festival, Ngo Lan Phuong and her husband Nguyen Ngoc Trung from the southern city of Vung Tau said the event did not deserve to be called a festival.
“We are standing at Xuan Huong Lake, the festival’s center, but could not see many flowers within a 6-km perimeter around us,” Phuong said.
“What I expected was a city full of flowers, to see flowers on display everywhere, but we actually had to go around looking for them,” she added.
Local residents and tourists who know the city well could easily see that the organizers just displayed a poor selection of flowers in front of Da Lat Market and the Quan Yin Pagoda. In previous festivals, these areas were brimful of flowers and open to the public free of charge.
This year, the only place tourists could find flowers in relative abundance was the Cu Hill, where the Da Lat Flower Association joined hands with the golf course to create a flower garden named “the Space of Beautiful Flowers” that covered over 3.3 hectares.
However, visitors had to pay VND50,000 for entrance, the highest price ever charged at Da Lat’s tourist attractions so far.
“It is meant to be the highlight of the festival, but I think it’s just slightly better than an average park. This so-called ‘flower festival’ is not a national event, and certainly not an international one,” Tu Quyen, a local said about the garden.
Nguyen Hong Chuong, an overseas student from Canada also agreed with Quyen.
“I see it as a Tet flower market, not a cultural event or a flower festival,” he complained.
For his part, Truong Van Thu, deputy chairman of Lam Dong Provincial People’s Committee and chairman of the festival organizing board, said the event was successful and attracted more tourists to the city than in previous years.
However, the official statistics announced today indicate that this year’s festival attracted around 170,000 tourists, a 50% decrease compared with last year.
Nguyen Vu Hoang, director of the province cultural center, who also designed 21 shows for the festival, said selling tickets was necessary.
“We wanted to familiarize the people with the habit of buying ticket for such events. The public should share the expenses with organizers,” Hoang said.