Reorganizing the entrance ticket checking in Hoi An Ancient town

By VINH LOC |

(QNO) - “From 16 April 2014, all tourists have to buy entrance tickets for sightseeing Hoi An ancient town. The ticket prices are 80,000 VND per one Vietnamese visitor for 4 sites and 120,000 VND (nearly 6 USD ) per one overseas tourist for 6 sites”- It’s a new regulation issued by Hoi An city authority since early last week.

After one week of implementing new regulation on selling entrance ticket, the turnover raised (1.7%) 2,7%
After one week of implementing new regulation on selling entrance ticket, the turnover raised 2,7%

Since that day, however, this official note has made waves of angry reactions from many foreign visitors who want to enter this World Cultural Heritage recognized by UNESCO and has been spreading on tourism forums, foreign websites and social networks.

All things began one week ago after an information posted up on the famous and prestigious international travelwebsite –TripAdvisor: “From now on, a 6 USD entrance ticket will be applied for a sightseeing tour in Hoi An ancient town. All tourist have to keep this regulation in mind”.

Last week, Nguyen Dinh Mao, a tourguide from Dong Duong Travel Company in Ha Noi, along with a group of Dutch tourists went to Hoi An city. In the first day, he bought tickets for his group to sightsee the ancient town. But in another evening, his group was stopped from entering this place because they had not entrance tickets.

“Why should a vistor pay 120,000 VND just to eat a 20 thousand-dong-bowl of Pho or Mi Quang at the market? It makes no sense!,” Hao said. Many people who are doing business in Hoi An ancient town also complained about the above regulation of Hoi An authority.

According to Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hoi An city Truong Van Bay, this fee policy was approved by the city’s People’s Consult and of by many tourism companies. This regulation will create justice and fair competition for all travel enterprises since many tourism companies pay for tickets for their clients while others fail to do so.  It also helps all tourists understand rightly about the true value of heritages. “We only check the entrance tickets, but not raise the ticket price. The turnover from selling entrance tickets is very important. It has contributed more than 70% of Hoi An’s expenditure for heritage reservation. In 2013, Hoi An attracted around 1.25 million visitors and the total turnover from selling entrance tickets reached over 76 billion VND”, Mr Bay explained.

In a past week, most of tourists were really frustrated by the new entrance fee policy. Because some of them just love to take a stroll along the town’s streets or go to restaurants, souvernirs shops  or bars there, not necessarily sightseeing. Many people who do business in the ancient town such as restaurants, souvernirs shops, cyclo… become worried because the number of visitors has decreased more and more.

“The new policy by Hoi An city authority is a form of taking all money. It will be adverse to many trading firms in the ancient town. Three days ago, some foreign tourists came to my shop. They asked us to reduce the product price because, they had to pay 6 USD per one  for entrance fee to get my shop”, said the owner of An Thanh souvenirs shop (1 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street).

Another problem which has made trouble to tourists is the way of checking entrance tickets. Stopping one by one to check the ticket, counting tickets, counting visitors… has created bad images of Hoi An city tourism in the eyes of tourists.

According to Mr Truong Van Bay, the regulation of entrance tickets fee has been applied since 1995. Many tourists, however, after having meals in Hoi An ancient quarter, they did not go back home but continued to sightsee without buying tickets.

“Hoi An ancient town is a unity of many heritage points. We can not sell tickets at every site, and this is a regulation by Quang Nam provincial authority. Up to now, we have built 7 ticket selling sites located on the ways to the ancient quarter such as Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, LeLoi, Tran Phu streets, An Hoi bridge…,” Mr Bay said.

“Checking entrance ticket is a normal work. However, some information about this policy appeared on the internet and some newspapers is not correct. This has made tourists and public opinion misunderstand. On 19 March 2014, we sent an official note to all hotels in Hoi An city and requested them to inform and explain this new policy to their clients, but they did not do so,” said Mr Vo Phung, Director of Hoi An Cultural and Sports.

“Right after the information about tourists’ reaction appearing on internet and the mass media, we organised a meeting including all officials to adjust the way of selling and checking tickets. All officials, especially ticket - sellers, who behave impolitely toward visitors will be strictly fined. All tourists can use the ticket pulp to enter the ancient town all the days after…” - Mr Phung confirmed.

Hoi An ciy authority’s explanation about new regulation on entrance tickets

An official explanation of  Hoi An city’s leaders about new regulation on entrance tickets to sightsee Hoi An ancient town was sent to tourists and mass media on 26 April 2014.

According to this explaination, instead of selling separate tickets to sightsee one relic, since October 1995, a package entrance tickets selling form has been applied for all tourists. A tourist can visit all relics in Hoi An ancient quarter architectural group.

One month before implementing new entrance ticket price (120,000 VND per one foreign visitor and 80,000 VND per one domestic visitor), Hoi An city had sent information to all travel companies. Those prices are not too high for sighseeing. Hoi An ancient quarter and all attractive sites in this World cultural heritage.

 With a package ticket, a tourist can visit 5 relic sites or 5 relics and the ancient quarter (for foreigner), or 3 relics and the ancient quarter (for domestics visitors). Among 5 relics, there is one artistic performance site. Visiting Hoi An ancient town in the evening,  all tourists will enjoy sparkling lanterns space, folk song performance, opera, shopping…
Reportedly, over 85% of turnover from entrance ticket sales will be used for maintaining  and preserving Hoi An World  cultural heritage.

The first aim of selling and checking entrance tickets is to create justice and fair competition for all travel enterprises (since many tourism companies pay for tickets for their clients while others fail to do so) and save tourists’ legitimate interests. In past time, many tourists paid money for entrance tickets to sightsee Hoi An ancient quarter for their tour, but when coming to Hoi An city, they were not received any tickets and could not enter the ancient quarter.

To receive tourists’ co-agreement on entrance ticket and create comfortable psychology to visitors, Hoi An city will continue to introduce new  regulation on entrance tickets to tourism companies, hotels and travel enterprises. Through those trading firms, all tourists will be received necessary information  about new regulation when coming to Hoi An city.

When a tourist enters Hoi An ancient town without an entrance ticket, he/she will be invite to buy tickets. All kids under 16 (including foreigners) taking part in a sightseeing tour will be free of charge.

                                                                                        By NGUYEN KIM BAO

By VINH LOC