VietNamNet Bridge – The decision to increase the price of the excursion ticket to Ha Long Bay, commencing from December 1, just a couple of weeks after Ha Long Bay was recognized as one of the seven natural wonders, has surprised travelers.
The excursion ticket price has unexpectedly increased by 100 percent since December 1, 2011. Travel firms have complained that they were not warned about that before, and they could not prepare for the changes,
The shocking decision
Since December 1, travelers have to pay 80,000 dong for a ticket for the itinerary of Thien Cung cavern - Dau Go cavern – Cho Da island – Ba Hang fishing village – Dinh Huong island – Trong Mai island – Hoa Cuong fishing village. Meanwhile, the ticket is more expensive, at 90,000 dong for the Sung Sot cave – Titov island – Me Cung cave – Dong Tien Lake, and 130,000 dong for a place for staying at night.
Especially, if travelers want to visit some points of the fixed itineraries, they will have to buy tickets for the whole itinerary, while previously, they only had to pay tickets for the excursion to some certain points. Besides, travelers also have to pay to charter ships which bring them to the bay.
The higher excursion tickets have in no way influenced the number of travelers to Ha Long Bay. It was estimated there were 4500 travelers on November 2, the same as the number of the other days. However, travel firms said that most of the travelers were foreign ones, who booked tours before the day travel firms were informed about the higher excursion tickets.
“We ourselves got surprised about the excursion ticket increases. We now have to renegotiate with travelers. Many of them accept to pay more for tickets, while those, who do not want to visit Ha Long Bay any more, will get money back. In case the negotiations fail, we have to use our money to offset the ticket price increases,” said Nguyen Van Hien, Director of Joy Travel.
Travel firms said that they should have been informed in advance about the ticket price increases several months in advance, so that they could prepare for this.
In fact, the Quang Ninh local authorities made the decision to raise the ticket on November 18, while an official notice was released on November 20. And only those, who came to the area, could hear about the information.
Tickets get more expensive, what’s next?
A question has been raised that whether the excursion ticket price increase means the improvement in the service quality.
Travel firms say that in general, all the travelers to Ha Long Bay would spend money to visit the wonderful landscape. However, travelers still complain about the poor tourism products and the infrastructure.
The quay at the Titov Island has to be upgraded after it was put into operation for a short time. Meanwhile, the quay at Thien Cung cave has not been completed after a long time of implementation. Especially, tourists do not feel safe when the quay is still under construction, while it is receiving guests at the same time. In many cases, travelers have to wait on the key to wait for the officers of the Ha Long bay management board to come to receive them.
Commenting about the decision to raise the excursion ticket price to Ha Long Bay, Nguyen Quy Phuong, Director of the Travel Department of the Vietnam National Tourism Administration VNAT has affirmed that he has received a lot of complaints from travel firms.
The increase of the excursion ticket price after five years of keeping unchanged price levels would not have been a problem, if the decision had not been made at this moment, just a few days after Ha Long Bay became one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Analysts have also commented that it is now not the right time to make such a decision. The Quang Ninh People’s Committee should have offered preferential tickets to be grateful to those who have voted for Ha Long Bay and to attract more travelers.