An visitor rejoices after catching a large fish during his trip to Truong Sa Islands. Photo: Mai Thanh Hai
Travel operators in Ho Chi Minh City are excited about the planned introduction of tours to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.
On Tuesday the city government ordered its tourism and transport departments and travel companies to carry out a feasibility study for the purpose.
They have been told to wrap it up quickly so that the first tour can begin on June 22.
Truong Sa Islands in the central province of Khanh Hoa are not accessible to tourists now. The archipelago usually gets visitors between April and June every year, but only for official purposes.
Some travel executives told Thanh Nien that they are ready and very excited to implement the plan.
Ly Viet Cuong, general director of Nam Phuong Tour, said the plan is very feasible since many people are eager to set foot on Truong Sa at least once in their life.
He said the city Department of Tourism came up with the idea of operating tours to the islands a long time ago.
“As far as I know, more than 200 people have signed up with the department for a trip to Truong Sa.”
Cuong, who himself visited the place in 2013, said people want to go there to conquer the rogue waves and strong winds and enjoy the untouched beauty of the islands.
He suggested that tour operators should help tourists explore the islands’ landscapes and the life of people and soldiers living there.
A tour should last 7-10 days, he suggested.
If organized well, the tour would attract many people regardless of the price, he said.
He estimated it would cost VND50 million (US$2,292) per person, which he said is not too expensive.
Nguyen Van My, director of Lua Viet Tours, also said the Truong Sa tour plan is feasible but assured that the price would be less than VND50 million.
He said a lot of overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) urge him to operate tours to the islands.
Truong Duc Hai, director of Orient Pearl Travel, said the government should make it easy for tourists, especially Viet Kieu, to sign up for Truong Sa tours and support travel companies so that the price would be reasonable.
The price should be around VND40 million ($1,833), he said.
In a recent interview with Thanh Nien, Nguyen Viet Thuan, chairman of the Truong Sa District People’s Committee, said starting tours is one way for Vietnam to affirm its sovereignty over the archipelago and help Vietnamese know more about it.
Based on the development of tourism, the government would develop the economy, security and defense of the islands and encourage scientific research there, he said.
Not only Vietnamese but also foreigners should also be allowed to come to Truong Sa, he said.
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Tourism, told Thanh Nien Wednesday that a group of around 60 travel executives based in HCMC would set off for Truong Sa for a survey later this month.
After the trip, their companies would send in their opinions to the city government on starting tours, he said.