HCM City (Viet Nam News/ANN) - Authorities in HCM City plan to exploit the area's river tourism potential with new programmes, including tours of Can Gio Mangrove Forest.
By the end of this month, the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will compile agency opinions and report to the People's Committee on the kind of infrastructure that should be built for river tours.
Last year, several river tours to Can Gio Mangrove Forest were launched by travel companies, attracting many foreign tourists.
Phan Xuan Anh, director of Viet Excursions, said his company had launched two pilot tours in the Can Gio Mangrove Forest near the Thi Vai River over the past five months.
In late April, Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the HCM City People's Committee, and a group of officials from relevant departments, took a river tour from the city's District 1 to the Can Gio Mangrove Forest, a UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserve in Can Gio District.
The trip was done as part of a research programme on the possible development of stopover stations on a river tour in Can Gio District.
One of the stopover stations could be a swift-breeding farm in Tam Thon Hiep Commune.
One of the tours organised by Viet Excursions lets tourists row kayaks in the Can Gio mangrove forest, visit salt fields on foot, and climb the 10-metre-high Giong Chua Mountain.
On the other tour, tourists travel by boat to visit Can Gio Mangrove Forest and listen to a tour guide describing the flora and fauna of the forest.
About 1,000 foreign tourists on cruise ships, most from Germany and the US, have taken the tours this year.
However, Can Gio District needs to do even more for tourism development, according to Anh.
Tourists enjoy exploring Can Gio, but the area has no souvenir or handicraft products. Tourists could also visit farms that raise swifts, according to travel agencies.
The Can Gio District-based Phi Long Boat Joint-Stock Company plans to develop swift farming on an area of more than 50ha in Can Gio and build a centre to exhibit Vietnam's swift nests.
With its two passenger ships, one carrying 400 passengers and the other 200, Phi Long wants to open a Can Gio - Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province river tour.
Le Van Sinh, head of the Can Gio Protection Forest Management Board, said the Can Gio Mangrove Forest was classified as a protection forest, which meant that the use of its rivers and canals for tourism development was still limited due to state regulations.
This waterway issue needs to be solved so that tourism in Can Gio can be developed, according to Sinh.
One of the tasks that should be given first investment priority is the planning and building of wharves at stopover stations on river tours.
He said that the city should conduct research on how to allow the use of rivers and canals in the Can Gio Protection Mangrove Forest to serve tourism services, including floating restaurants, water skiing and boat rowing.