Heritage sites across Hue province will charge visitors new entrance fees, ones that reflect the monuments’ value and are blind to nationality, said an official of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre on Wednesday.
Mai Xuan Minh, deputy director of the centre, which manages the UNESCO world heritage complex, said the adjustment to entrance ticket prices are a reflection of the last decade of restoration. The price hikes are also intended to pay for recent improvements to services like royal court music performances and royal costumes available to tourists who want to dress up.
The Hue Monuments Conservation Centre’s announcement of the price increase made the news circuit on Friday last week after the local People’s Council approved a resolution that set out the new prices.
Hue residents and natives around the country reacted to the news with trepidation. They worry that price increases will ruin Hue’s tourism profile which boasts of being the former royal capital of Viet Nam.
Online comments suggested that Hue’s tourism authorities are failing to take advantage of the area’s tourism potential.
One of the primary fears is that the already dwindling number of visitors will continue to taper off. A decade of poor service and a boring tour programme has already given Hue tourism a bad reputation.
Bao Huy, a regional guide to Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue and Quang Binh sites told Viet Nam News that, “a price increase will kill Hue tourism totally”. An entrance ticket to the Imperial Palace, for instance, would double from VND105,000-210,000 (US$4.90-9.80).
“Local tourism policy makers should recognize that most tourists that go to the central region don’t stay in Hue, but rather Da Nang or Hoi An. Tourists also now travel directly from Da Nang or Hoi An to Quang Binh for the cave tours, without stopping in Hue,” he added.
When visitors do stop off in Hue, they will likely choose sites that are free of charge like An Mausoleum or pagodas, he predicted. But at least foreigners and Vietnamese now enjoy the same prices, whether they go to a ticketed or free monument.
Minh said that people misunderstood the announcement, pointing out that the resolution only sets out a maximum entrance price ever for the heritage sites.
“It serves at a framework for pricing the sites’ entrance tickets; perhaps the prices won’t reach these high levels,” he said.
Just what price these heritage sites will ask of visitors remains murky. The announcement of specific prices, that may perhaps never be reached, leaves it as an open ended question for tourists and tour-guides alike.
“Obviously we will have price adjustments in the next year, but probably not by that much,” Minh said.