Travel Travel

27/06/2019 - 07:12

Hue to proactively attract cruise tourists

In just the next half year (July 2019 to March 2020), there will be up to 19 large cruise ships, each carrying 3,000 to 5,000 passengers, arriving in Hue. More importantly, arrivers to Chan May port are predominantly Europeans, who always choose to visit Hue.

Passengers disembarking at Chan May port to visit Hue and the surrounding areas

New opportunities

According to Mr. Tran Luc, Vice Director of the Da Nang branch of Saigontourist, cruise tourists often fall into two major groups, Chinese and Europeans. A ship with Chinese passengers would not choose to head to Hue. On the contrary, European voyagers always consider Hue their first priority.

Since early 2019, European passengers have replaced Chinese passengers as the predominant group of cruise tourists to Hue. Also, an increasing number of big international cruise lines have enlisted Southeast Asia in their itineraries.

Vietnam in general and Chan May port in particular are significant stopovers in such voyages. There has also been a hike in the number of passengers on each ship. From small carriers, each with only 700 to 1,000 passengers in the past, now most of the ships stopping at Chan May are large carriers with high tonnage, each bringing 3,000 to 5,000 passengers.

According to Saigontourist and TAN HONG Trading and Tourism Company Limited, the two main service providers for cruise tourists at Chan May port, the list of ships arriving in Hue up until 2021 has been determined. From July 2019 to March 2020, there will be 19 large carriers, with 3,000 to 5,000 passengers on each (adding up to 80,000 passengers in total), docking at Chan May. More importantly, these passengers are predominantly Europeans, who always choose to tour Hue.

In April 2019, for the first time, Chan May port welcomed the tourist cruise ship Costa Venezia, carrying 6,200 travelers and crewmembers in total. Before that, Chan May port had only received ships with a maximum of 5,000 passengers and crewmembers. As larger ships choose to stop at Chan May, new opportunities are opening up for Hue’s cruise tourism to thrive.

According to Mr. Nguyen Van Chuong, Vice Director of Chan May Port JSC, to deliver better services to visitors, standardized restrooms and souvenir shops have been built at the port. Especially, Wharf No.1 will be upgraded to be specialized for tourism. Accordingly, more investment will be put into infrastructure development and the services will be enhanced to be more professional. The construction of the breakwater is also to be completed soon to ensure safe mooring for ships at the port, especially in winter. Furthermore, this improvement is expected to attract ships to stay overnight at Chan May, prolonging their excursion time in Hue.

Maritime European visitors to Hue is forecasted to rise in number in the coming time.

Planning the solutions ahead

New opportunities are opening up for Hue to attract cruise tourists. However, according to businesses in this segment, products aimed specifically at cruise tourists in Hue are few and far between. Apart from visiting heritage sites, other services, especially shopping, still fall short of visitors’ demand.

Even Hue royal court music, which is usually a magnet for cruise tourists, has not been specifically organized for this group of visitors. Currently, a show of royal court music at the Citadel lasts up to two hours, which is too long for cruise tourists, who normally have only 5 hours for the tour in Hue. For them, a 30 to 45 minutes show would be the most suitable.

In Mr. Tran Luc’s analysis, as competition among destinations increases, supporting policies by the tourism authorities will improve Hue’s appeal. For example, if a group of 1,000 cruise tourists visit a historical site in Hue, they should enjoy reasonable discount. The issuance of specific discount frames is also necessary while this policy has been already in place of many areas as a measure to absorb more tourists.

Typically, cruise travelers are interested in buying local specialties. In their voyage to Vietnam, not all sea ports are chosen as stopovers; therefore, the establishment of a shopping center where diverse products from all over the country are available will contribute to fascinating visitors and increasing their spending.

According to many companies, apart from introducing Hue city tour to tourists, it is necessary to build Chan May port and the surrounding area into a destination with a diverse offer of services, rather than merely a terminal. Some passengers and crewmembers, who do not come ashore to visit the city and make up quite a big group, will also need to shop and use a number of services.

Chan May port reportedly is planning to bring passengers who stay on board during docking and crewmembers to Laguna Lang Co resort to enjoy services such as spa, swimming, shopping, and, in the future, casino. To further attract them, a biking tour from the port to Laguna resort will soon be on the list.

As Lang Co - Canh Duong has been approved to become a national tourist site, new resorts with high class services are being formed, promising to provide better services to cruise tourists.

To better attract and benefit from cruise tourists better, as well as to avoid the passive performance of the past many years, Hue needs to consider the establishment of a specialized unit for managing, organizing and setting up development plans for this market, thus boosting responsibility and proficiency in coordination and customer support.

Story and photos: Quang Sang