Authority denies tightening control over foreign visitors to famous Can Gio reserve

Thanh Nien News

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 Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, nearly 50 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City's center. File photo
The immigration authority in Ho Chi Minh City has said that procedures are "simple" for travel companies to bring foreign tourists to the UNESCO-recognized Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, news website Saigon Times Online recently reported.
The agency made the comment after several tour operators expressed concerns that the tightened control over foreigners' visit to the famous destination could result in red tape, affecting their revenues.
It takes only one day to get a license, the agency under the HCMC Police Department said, adding all the companies have to do is submit lists of tourists and their passports a day before their tours start.
Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions, which has sent nearly 4,000 foreign tourists to Can Gio this year, worried it will not be that easy with tours on Sundays and holidays, when state offices usually close.
Early this month travel companies said they received a letter from authorities ordering them to get licenses from HCMC's Police Department when sending foreigners to the famous mangrove forest, nearly 50 kilometers from the city's center.
Authorities were quoted as saying that, since Can Gio is categorized as a sea border area, any foreign visit must be approved by police.
They said they sent the letter because not many operators were aware of the rule, especially those who brought international cruise tourists.
Local border guards, in fact, denied entries of many groups of tourists, according to authorities.
Tours for international cruise tourists from HCMC and the coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau were introduced in 2011.

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