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The Viet Nam Administration of Tourism has suggested Quang Binh Province postpone any increase in the price of entrance tickets to local caves. The move was made to settle down opposition from travel agencies against the price hike.
Several weeks ago, authorities in the central province announced that cost of visiting the caves would be doubled and the new price of entrance tickets would be applied early in the new year.
This meant that entrance tickets to Thien Duong (Paradise), Phong Nha, and Tien Son caves would double to VND250,000, VND150,000 and VND80,000 respectively.
The decision angered hundreds of travel agents across the country as tour programs had been already sold according to the old prices. They found it difficult to explain to foreign tourists that the Vietnamese tourism mindset was that "more visitors meant higher costs".
The tourist administration suggested the increase be postponed until July. It also said that agents should be allowed to retain the old price for those who had already paid. It also wanted local authorities to develop a price policy to encourage domestic visitors, according to its scheme to keep Vietnamese tourists at home destinations.
Travel agents and tourism companies hope local authorities will rethink their plans, as price adjustments are in their hands, not the national administration.
A total of 2.7 million tourists visited Quang Binh last year. Revenue from cave tourism was VND99.7 billion (US$4.7 million), of which, Thien Duong cave contributed VND41 billion, Phong Nha and Tien Son contributed VND30 billion, and the world biggest cave, Son Doong, VND13 billion, and its sister cave VND7.5 billion.
Son Doong and Tu Lan were not subject to the price rise decision. A separate company sells trekking and caving tour programs to the caves, not entrance tickets as in other cave sites in the province.
I’m Nick Veinot. We’ll be back with more news from English 123.