Travel firms arranging tours for international cruise passengers to Can Gio Biosphere Reserve in the district of the same name in HCMC will send the list of visitors to the district authorities one day before arrival.
The relaxing of the rule was confirmed by Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions, after representatives of the company and the HCMC Department of Tourism met immigration officers over procedures for foreigners to visit the outlying district.
The existing regulations require tour operators to obtain permission from the authorities to bring foreign visitors to Can Gio as the district is identified as a sea border area.
However, the procedures have been simplified for travel companies to take international travelers there. They should inform the authorities of the numbers of foreigners from the cruise ships they service and submit the lists of guests to the immigration one day before their ships arrive in Vietnam.
“In theory, the requirements sound simple but we’re afraid that if ships arrive on Sundays or holidays, there might be no officers in charge of handling lists of guests and issuing permits,” Anh said.
More local travel firms have arranged trips for foreign tourists to visit Can Gio from HCMC and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in recent years. Viet Excursions alone organized tours for more than 4,000 foreign visitors to Can Gio from late last year to early this year and most of the tours took in Can Gio Biosphere Reserve.
Several months ago, HCMC police announced that foreigners must obtain approval for their trips to Thanh An, Long Hoa, Ly Nhon communes and Can Thanh Town in Can Gio as they are sea border communes as specified by Government Decree 50/2008/ND-CP on security at sea border gates.
Many tourism companies have expressed concern over the new regulation as it may lead foreigners to avoid tourist attractions in places identified as sea border areas.
Local travel firms said Binh Ba Island off the central province of Khanh Hoa and Son Tra Peninsula in Danang City are attractive to foreign travelers but they have some parts categorized as sea border areas. Therefore, if the regulation is applied nationwide, they must spend more time completing procedures for their foreign guests to come to the two destinations.