Chinese travelers: opportunity or risk for tourism development?
While many people have expressed concern about the thousands of Chinese tourists coming across border gates, businesses think it presents great opportunities to develop tourism.
Many photos of Chinese travelers standing in long queues in the rain at border gates, waiting for their turn to be checked into Vietnam, have appeared in local newspapers recently.
The Quang Ninh provincial authorities have confirmed that 10,000-15,000 Chinese travelers have entered Vietnam daily through the local border gate, while the figure was only 4,000-5,000 in the past.
Chinese travelers were also seen squeezing into excursion sites on Ha Long Bay and waiting at boat stations on March 19-20. The number of travelers fell on March 21, but only slightly, to 7,000-8,000.
Some analysts said many Chinese have been flocking to Vietnam because they are not allowed to travel to some countries, including South Korea.
However, Lao Dong reporters have found that the number of Chinese travelers coming to Vietnam has increased steadily year after year.
About 500,000 Chinese travelers entered Vietnam through the Mong Cai Border Gate in 2016.
The number of travelers is usually higher on days just before and after Tet and falls later, but the figure is no less than 5,000 a day.
Lao Dong quoted a tourism expert who said that Vietnamese travel firms, under pressure from Chinese partners, have to lower tour fees dramatically. This has contributed to the increase in the number of travellers.
Tours that charge ‘zero dong’ offer Chinese travelers trips of three nights and four days.
Though there are no fees, travel firms do not lose money because they collude with tour guides to provide other services to travelers at exorbitantly high prices.
Shops which serve only Chinese travelers have been increasing in Mong Cai, Ha Long, and Mao Khe, Dong Trieu.
Chinese travelers are brought there by tour guides and travel firms where they have to buy products at high prices. The revenue of the shops is believed to be sky-high, but Vietnamese agencies cannot collect taxes from them.
The expert said Chinese travelers are diverse. Those who come to Vietnam on cruises are more affluent and those who arrive by land have lower incomes.
Some people believe that it would be better for Vietnam to restrict the number of travelers coming by land because the travelers often make trouble, while the revenue they generate is modest.
However, Tran Van Minh, the owner of a tourism boat on Ha Long Bay, said he was willing to accept the low service fees, saying that if boats don’t have Chinese clients, they will operate at only 60-70 percent of capacity.
Mai Thanh, VNN