Under the directive No 3620, tourists departing from Ha Long tourism port to follow any of the five excursion routes will be charged from VND40,000 to VND130,000 a person (US$2 - $6.5), nearly twice the previous rates.
In addition, tourists wishing to visit only one route within the bay are now required to buy tickets for all the attractions in that route whether they want to see them all or not.
For instance, tourists wishing to visit route No 2, which consists of many attractions including Sung Sot Cave, Ti Top Islet, Me Cung Cave, Dong Tien Lake, and Trinh Nu Cave, will now have to buy tickets for all the five sites listed even if they only want to see Sung Sot Cave.
Prior to the new regulation, tourists only had to buy one ticket for each place they wanted to visit.
Many travel agencies in Hanoi operating tour packages to Ha Long Bay said they were informed of the new price policy via email.
“But we will not increase our tour prices until the year’s end,” a tour agent of Thien Thai Travel Co said.
Similarly, tour operator Sen Rung Co said they would keep prices of tours to Ha Long unchanged until next year.
New world’s wonder -- new price
Earlier on November 11, Ha Long Bay was named among the world’s new seven wonders of nature, according to the global poll conducted by New Open World Corporation, an associate of the New 7 Wonders Foundation.
Since the price adjustment was made soon after the bay received the title, the public have expressed concern whether its recognition as a world’s new wonder is the main reason for the price hike.
Commenting on this, Doan Thi Thuy Hanh, head of finance and planning of the Ha Long Bay management board, said the ticket price adjustment was part of the provincial authorities’ planning.
“The adjustment should have been made as early as May, but we had to wait for the provincial People’s Council approval,” Hanh told Tuoi Tre.
“The fact that the new admissions coincided with Ha Long being named the world’s new natural wonder has misled the public into thinking that we have purportedly taken advantage of the new title to hike ticket fees.”
However, Do Duc Thang, deputy head of the bay’s management board, said since Ha Long Bay has become a new world’s wonder, its admission fees must be increased to reflect its new status.
Thang added that there were two other reasons for the hike.
“We need money to increase investment and improve service and management quality,” he said.
“Moreover, ticket fees cannot be kept unchanged at this time of high inflation.”