Passengers from Diamond Princess, a US cruise ship, are transferred to Chan May Port in the central province of Thua Thien Hue by motor launch April 6. PHOTO: BUI NGOC LONG
The Ministry of Transport has drafted a plan to upgrade eight ports by 2030 to attract more international cruise ships.
The plan, unveiled at a tourism conference in the central town of Hue last week, envisions the ports being able to handle giant ships weighing up to 100,000 gross ton (GT) after the upgrade, Thoi bao Kinh te Sai Gon (Saigon Times) Online reported.
GT is an index related to a ship's overall internal volume.
The ports include Hon Gai in the northern province of Quang Ninh, Chan May in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue, Tien Sa in the central city of Da Nang, and Dam Mon and Nha Trang in the central province of Khanh Hoa, Sao Mai – Ben Dinh in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, the passenger wharf in the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, and Mui Dat Do on Phu Quoc Island.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said Vietnam's coastline stretches over 3,260 kilometers and has 39 seaports, but few of them can handle cruise ships.
But even the functional ports have “very poor” infrastructure and are also used for cargo handling, he said.
Some 70 percent of tourist destinations are located along the coast and attract 50 percent of tourists, yet the number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam by sea is low – 193,300 last year, or 2.5 percent of the total -- he said.
But foreign experts said the plan does not go far enough.
According to executives from some Asian cruise lines who attended the conference, the ports should be upgraded to be able to handle even bigger ships than planned.
Cruise ships are getting larger now with many weighing as much as 200,000 GT.
Kevin Leong, chairman of the Asian Cruise Association, said with Asia accounting for a considerable number of cruise tourists and Asians preferring destinations with many activities, Vietnam should also focus on entertainment activities for tourists.
Some called for smoothening immigration procedures for tourists arriving by sea.
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