Tourism companies have complained about a sudden hike in entrance fees at the My Son Relic, an ancient Hindu religious site recognised as a UNESCO heritage site and a popular tourist destination in central Vietnam.
The My Son Relic management this week notified many tourism companies that it would increase by up to 70 percent ticket prices for the cluster of Hindu temples built in the 4th century some 40km from modern-day Hoi An.
From July the fees will go up from VND100,000 (US$4.6) to VND150,000 for foreigners and from VND60,000 to VND100,000 for locals.
“The hike is high and on short notice while the destination has no new products or services” the director of a tourism company in Hoi An, who wanted to remain unnamed, said.
“There should have been a gradual increase under a carefully considered plan. Tourism companies now have to pay the difference for tours already booked.”
Another tourism company director in Quang Nam, who too asked for anonymity, said the site management should have discussed with tourism companies before increasing entrance fees, just like Hoi An town does.
“A plan to increase the entrance fee to Cham Island off Hoi An by VND20,000 has been delayed due to criticism following a survey of tourism firms.”
Not the right time
The My Son relics complex is a cluster of ancient Hindu temples dating back to the 4th century. Photo: The Vinh
Many experts said it is not the right time to increase the entrance fee at My Son, which has already been criticized for not attracting many tourists like other nearby UNESCO heritage sites in Vietnam like Hue and Hoi An.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Vietnam received 7.87 million international visitors last year, a 4 percent increase over 2013.
However, the number of arrivals in the first five months this year dropped by nearly 13 percent to 3.27 million.
Nguyen Van Tuan, VNAT director, said the ticket price increase at My Son is unreasonable.
“Generally, entrance fees at destinations in Vietnam are much lower than at many places abroad and can be adjusted.
“However, the adjustment needs to be made at the right time, with improved services and under a rod map with prior notice of at least six months.”
VNAT has recommended careful consideration before increasing entrance fees at UNESCO heritage sites, he said.
“Increasing the fee at this time when the sector faces difficulty in attracting tourists is not reasonable. They have the authority to hike the fee but will be responsible for it.”