Ba Ria – Vung Tau – The port complex of Cai Mep – Thi Vai in Ba Ria – Vung Tau continually welcomed international cruise ships with thousands of tourists over the past months, a sign of cruise tourism recovery in this southern province and Vietnam at large.
From November 10 to 26, the Saigontourist travel service company served three cruise trips to Vietnam by cruise line Celebrity Cruises, including two arriving in Ba Ria – Vung Tau. In late August, Spectrum of the Seas carrying almost 4,000 passengers and crewmembers docked at Cai Mep – Thi Vai, marking the third time in 2023 this superyacht had come to the province.
Like in some other localities such as Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa, and Thua Thien – Hue provinces, cruise tourism in Ba Ria – Vung Tau often becomes vibrant from October to the end of April.
The provincial Tourism Department said Saigontourist was designated by cruise lines to serve 14 international cruise trips with over 30,000 visitors to Ba Ria – Vung Tau between November 10 this year to April 1, 2024.
Some travel companies said foreign visitors, after arriving at local ports, often take a tour of famous destinations in Vung Tau city such as the statue of Jesus Christ, Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda, Thang Tam Temple, and Bach Dinh (White Palace), or a countryside tour of destinations along National Highway 51 in Phu My commune like Ho Phap Pagoda, Cao Dai Temple, or the suburbs of Ba Ria city, where traditional crafts and customs are still upheld.
Located in the southern key economic region and a gateway to the East Sea for the southeastern region, Ba Ria – Vung Tau is connected with Ho Chi Minh City and other localities by road, air, and waterways.
Aside from a number of historical and cultural relic sites and special festivals, it is also blessed with 306km of coastline, including 156km eligible for serving as bathing beaches. Dinh and Minh Dam mountains, Binh Chau – Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve with rich flora and fauna diversity and hot mineral springs, 16 pristine islands of all sizes, along with the island district of Con Dao – a revolutionary relic site, a nature reserve and also a Ramsar site also form part of Ba Ria – Vung Tau’s tourism potential.
The close proximity with Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City and Long Thanh International Airport, which is under construction in Dong Nai province, and the Cai Mep – Thi Vai port complex’s capability of handling major cruise ships are also advantages for the province to welcome international travellers.
Phan Hoang Vu, Deputy Director General of SP-SSA International Terminal, said cruise tourism is growing well in Ha Long, Hue, Da Nang, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, and Nha Trang. Among them, Ba Ria – Vung Tau with the Cai Mep – Thi Vai deep-water port complex is favourable for large vessels to dock at. The road system linking the complex with national highways and places of interest province-wide is also convenient for tourists to travel.
To facilitate cruise tourism, the Government, ministries, and sectors have issued many policies to create favourable conditions, including reforming administrative procedures at seaports and reducing port fees for the vessels coming to the country on fixed routes or for multiple times.
On August 15, Vietnam officially applied a new visa policy for foreigners, which is said to be a good condition for tourists and cruise lines to arrange trips.
Trinh Hang, Director of the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Tourism Department, affirmed that the province holds conditions to develop cruise tourism. It welcomed 126 international cruise ships in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and the number is expected to reach 26 this year.
Cruise tourists often spend much money as well as time to try all services of their destinations, and Ba Ria – Vung Tau is currently a magnet for them, he went on.
Ba Ria – Vung Tau attracted nearly 14 million visitors during the first 11 months of 2023, equivalent to 99.7% of this year’s target and up nearly 22% year on year. Meanwhile, its revenue from tourism approximated 14.6 trillion VND (601.2 million USD), or almost 103% of the year’s revenue target, rising 30%, according to the provincial Tourism Department./.