Tourism sector enraged over capital city bus restrictions


(TVLW) – Hanoi authorities’ decision to forbid tourist buses to travel about the city in daytime is facing strong opposition from travel companies, which say this only one of several hindrances imposed on them by the capital city.

Nguyen Thi Hoa Le, Director of the HCM City-based Hoa Binh Travel Firm, complained that she had to fly to Hanoi 10 times last month to ask permission for the company’s buses to operate within the city. Hoa Binh’s operating license was very expensive and only 3-4 of their 25 buses are allowed to enter and travel within the city. The company must extend their license every two months.

“Police are keeping watch over at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and are fining unlicensed buses. Sometimes, the police asked travelers to exit the vehicles and impound the tour vehicles,” Mrs. Le said.

“Therefore, instead of hiring two large buses, we have to use six 15-passenger vans. Every night, our company has to transfer travelers from big buses to smaller ones to carry them into the city early the next morning”.

According to Vu The Binh, Director of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), says he has not seen the official document stipulating that only 15% of total buses can enter the city, but he can clearly see signposts saying Hanoi forbids 24-45-seat tourist vehicles.

“There are numerous signposts on the roads linking 3-5-star hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing areas in Tay Ho, Ba Dinh and Hoan Kiem districts. You can also see these signposts in front of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature) or Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, which are the most popular destinations for most foreign tourists,” Mr. Binh said.

He added that as Vietnam is spending tens of billions of VND to attract foreign tourists, Hanoi authorities are working, in subtle if not direct, opposition to this goal. In fact, he continued, officials are wrong in thinking large tourism vehicles are the real problem, they only account for 10% of total circulating vehicles in the city.

Travel firms say that with only 15% of buses allowed, 60% of foreign tourists will be unable to visit.

Representatives from the Hanoi Tourism Department say most travelers’ sight-seeing, shopping and other activities occur during the day. Most of them may choose other destinations instead of Hanoi, and the city’s goal of welcoming 2mil foreign tourists by 2010 will be out of reach.

In latest news, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh has asked the leaders of VNAT to work with Hanoi’s People’s Committee on developing solutions to this conflict of interest.