Vietnam excited to implement planned tours to Spratly Islands
Vietnam is on the verge of offering regular tours to the hotly disputed Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. The local government is currently undertaking a feasibility study to explore whether they should proceed with the plans, however industry insiders and stakeholders are confident that soon travellers will be able to book tours of the Truong Sa Islands. Truong Sa is currently the subject of a territorial dispute between Vietnam and China.
Vietnam's HO Chi Minh City (Saigon) is inching closer to the completion of a government ordered feasibility study on the implementation of regular tours to Truong Sa Islands also known as Spratly Islands.
As part of the feasibility study, the Department of Tourism in Ho Chi Minh City has prepared a pilot tour of the islands for a group of 60 Ho Chi Minh City travel executives in order to inform the process of putting together official tour packages in the future.
Currently, the Spratly Islands, which have been the subject of a territorial dispute between Vietnam and China, are largely inaccessible to holidaymakers. Should Vietnam decide to proceed with offering regular tours to the contested archipelago, it would a major step towards affirming its sovereignty over the territory.
Despite the tensions with China, local travel executives, tourism officials and the public at large are all excited at the prospect of regular tours to the islands with over 200 people already registering their interest with the Department of Tourism to visit Truong Sa.
"The Truong Sa tour will surely be a success as Vietnamese beaches are very beautiful."
Stated Tran Xuan Hung, director of Viking Travel Co. The deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Ha Van Sieu was also upbeat explaining:
"I really appreciate the idea of organising tours to Truong Sa and believe it will soon be realised. Truong Sa, as part of Vietnam's sovereignty, is an attractive destination."
Currently there is much speculation about the cost of a 7-10 day tour to Truong Sa Islands, experts are estimating that prices could range between $18,333 USD and $2,292 USD per person.
Like many countries in Southeast Asia, tourism is a key asset for Vietnam. In 2014, the tourism sector contributed 4.6 per cent to Vietnam's GDP and generated 1.96 million jobs.
The total number of arrivals in 2014 increased by four per cent year-on-year to 7.87 million travellers, however, this growth was down by 10.6% when compared to 2013. Much of the decline has been owed to fewer arrivals from China on the back of tensions linked to the on-going territorial dispute over the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
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