Poor waterway infrastructure and lack of wharves as well as stopover stations are major obstacles preventing the full development of waterway tourism in HCM City, according to river transport and tourism companies.
HCM City’s first public river bus route Bạch Đằng- Linh Đông begins at Bạch Đằng Wharf in District 1.
Nguyễn Hải Linh, owner of the Elisa floating restaurant, said the city had not invested enough in river tourism products.
The closure of Bạch Đằng Wharf, a busy docking place for tourist boats and floating restaurants on the Sài Gòn River, made it difficult for businesses to operate as they had to move to Sài Gòn Port in District 4, Linh said.
Linh, who spoke at a roundtable on waterway tourism held earlier this week in HCM City, said the city needed to create more favourable conditions for floating restaurants, yachts and river tourism services to operate downtown.
An Sơn Lâm, owner of the Indochinese Sailboat Company, said his company had to sell several boats as a result of the closure of Bạch Đằng Wharf.
Cleaning up polluted waterways, improving infrastructure and building more berths and wharves for tourist boats to dock are all needed, said Lâm, adding that Bạch Đằng Wharf and Sài Gòn Port are attractive boat stops for tourism.
Nguyễn Văn Mỹ, director of Lửa Việt Travel Company, said restaurants, shopping services and tourist destinations should be carefully planned along the river to attract tourists.
Unnecessary requirements to operate river transport and tourism services should be streamlined to encourage more investors, Mỹ added.
The city’s People’s Committee has issued a plan to develop river tourism for the 2017-2020 period.
Under the plan, at least seven waterway tourism products will be developed along Sài Gòn, Đồng Nai, Nhà Bè, Soài Rạp and Lòng Tàu rivers and Bến Nghé, Tẻ, Tàu Hủ, and Lò Gốm canals by 2020.
The number of tourists purchasing waterway tourism products is expected to reach 450,000 next year, with a growth rate of 15 per cent a year on average.
As part of the plan, the first public river bus route in HCM City began operation last week.
The 10.8-km Bạch Đằng- Linh Đông route, with 12 stops, starts at Bạch Đằng Wharf in District 1, and goes through districts Bình Thạnh, Thủ Đức, 1 and 2.
Bùi Xuân Cường, director of the city’s Department of Transport, said many waterway tourism routes would be developed in coming years, including routes from HCM City to Bình Dương, and to Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu and Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces.
Greenlines DP Company will launch high-speech boats for a route from the HCM City centre to Cần Giờ District on December 23, he said.
HCM City has 1,000 km of rivers and canals connecting the city with the neighbouring provinces of Bình Dương, Tây Ninh, Đồng Nai, Long An and Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu and the provinces of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta. —VNS