Most of the provinces in the central region have
airports and seaports, but foreigners who want to visit sites or stay in resorts
there must still take roundabout routes, according to Tuoi Tre.
Hong Kong to Da Nang: nine hours!
It took the family of a European businessman, coming for a holiday at the
posh Nam Hai resort near Hoi An town, nine hours to get there from Hong Kong
because their flight from HCM City to Da Nang was delayed.
Herbert Pichler, the five star resort’s general director, says that’s not
unusual. Though from Da Nang’s airport, visitors can reach the nearby strip of
beach resorts in a matter of minutes, the air routes to Vietnam’s central region
are inconvenient. Foreign tourists typically complain that it took them ‘too
much time’ to get to the Nam Hai, and ask why there aren’t direct international
flights to Da Nang.
A number of carriers tried to open international air routes to Da Nang, but they
have given up. Now there’s left only Silk Air, providing four flights a week
from Singapore via Siem Reap (Cambodia) and China Southern Airlines flying twice
a week from Guangzhou.
The Middle Airports Corporation reports that revenues from international flights
to Da Nang Airport accounts for only ten to fifteen percent of the airport’s
revenue. International airlines hesitate to open air routes to Da Nang though
they’ve been offered many preferences.
Vitours is Danang’s top travel agency. Deputy General Director Cao Tri Dung
calls organizing direct flights to Da Nang the key to developing the tourism
industry in the nation’s central region. Dung urges a focus on four markets:
South East Asia, China-Hong Kong, North East Asia (Korea and Japan) and
“Among the 40,000 travelers Vitours serves every year, there are about 15,000
foreign travelers. Of the latter, not more than thirty percent arrive here by
international air,” Dung said, stressing that if more routes were opened, the
number of foreign tourists would increase.
Cargo-handling seaports do not like cruise ships
The central coast still has no seaports that specialize in receiving
cruises. Cruise ships must dock at cargo ports like Chan May near Hue or Tien Sa
port in Da Nang City.
Nguyen Huu Sia, Deputy General Director of Da Nang Port, says the number of
cruise ship visits has been increasing by ten to fifteen percent year on year,
mostly carrying US and European tourists. Travel firms tell him the figure is
modest, far less than the great potentials of the central region deserve.
To attract more foreign tourists to the central region in the short term, Sia
favors upgrading port services and reducing fees that now are higher than in
nearby countries. Some kinds of fees ought to be lowered by thirty to fifty
percent, he says. In the longer term, it’s essential to have one or more ports
that specialize in receiving tourists.
Tourists shrink at overland travel
Nguyen Phuc Linh, Deputy Director of the Da Nang Department for Culture,
Sports and Tourism, said the city has spent trillions of dong to upgrade the
coastal road, considering this a driver for tourism growth.
The city now has excellent road links to Hoi An and Hue. These provide access to
many more potential resort sites.
However, Dinh Van Thu, Deputy Chairman of Quang Nam province, calls the
transport system “still weak.” The Da Nang – Quang Ngai Highway and the coastal
road linking Thua Thien-Hue to Binh Dinh have been only slowly implemented due
to a lack of capital, he says.
Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An are the three most popular destinations for foreign
tourists on the central coast, and it is most convenient to travel by land
between these places. However, many tourists complain about the itineraries they
Tourists lambasted the bad service of a Hue to Hoi An tour provided by a local
travel firm that Tuoi Tre reporters joined. Participants were informed that they
would depart at 1.30 pm, but in fact they didn’t leave until 2.15 pm. On the
way, the bus stopped at a small restaurant where there was neither a sit down
toilet or running water. The tourists only arrived in Hoi An ancient town at 8
pm in the evening.