Cruise operators can use wharf until end January: HCMC gov't

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Foreign tourists wait across a restaurant boat at Bach Dang Wharf in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Son Cao Foreign tourists wait across a restaurant boat at Bach Dang Wharf in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Son Cao

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Ho Chi Minh City has extended until the end of this month a deadline for closing the Bach Dang wharf to tourism cruisers, allowing them more time to find an alternative wharf, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Friday.

The closure, said to make way for improvements of the waterfront, was already delayed once for 15 days after the original January 1 deadline was reached.

According to Tuoi Tre, the People's Committee of HCMC agreed that tourism cruisers and restaurant boats can continue to use Bach Dang wharf in District 1 until Jan. 31.
The planned closure has faced protests both cruise businesses and city tourism authorities.
The Tourism Department has asked the city government not to close Bach Dang wharf yet until tourism cruisers find a place to operate.
The department sent a plea early this week following a meeting with transport officials and several cruiser operators, Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online reported.
“The meeting was ordered by the city Tourism Development Steering Committee, so we hope that the city is considering letting us operate there sometime more,” a businessman at the meeting told the newspaper.
“It’s very hard to find a new wharf now,” he said.
HCMC Transport Department in late December informed cruise operators that the city would close the downtown waterfront to tourism from the new year to make way for improvements.
The department later allowed cruisers to operate until January 15.
But many businesses have not found an alternative venue by the deadline.
They have asked the transport department to let them use the wharf until at least March this year, so they can serve customers during the Lunar New Year (Tet) which peaks on February 19.
Also, their thousands of workers can afford to enjoy the country’s biggest holiday, they said.
They also asked the department to issue specific regulations for waterfront operation to save them from such business hiccups in the future.
Bach Dang is possibly the only place in the city where cruisers have been providing city river tours and river dining services.
Around 40 boats currently operate along the wharf, which sees thousands of tourists a day.
Many boat owners have already signed contracts with the city for the coming year.

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