The government of Quang Ninh Province, home to Ha Long, has approved a plan to trial these buses for a town tour.
The 53-km route will wind its way through Ha Long Market; Ben Ca wharf; Quang Ninh Museum and Library; October 30 Square; Quang Ninh Planning, Fair and Exhibition Palace; Ha Long Flower Park; Tuan Chau Park; and Royal Lotus Hotel before finally stopping at Vinpearl Ha Long Resort.
For the trial, two 636-seat buses will be pressed into service. Tickets will cost VND179,000 ($8) for the two-hour tour and VND219,000 ($9) for use over five hours, VND249,000 ($11) for 10 hours and VND299,000 ($13) for 24 hours.
The tour will take guests along coastal roads to explore the magnificent views of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO natural heritage site.
Hanoi began a similar tour in May last year. The bus makes 13 stops and goes through 25 streets taking tourists to 30 attractions in the capital city, including St. Joseph Cathedral on Nha Chung Street, Vietnamese Women’s Museum on Ly Thuong Kiet Street and Hoa Lo Prison on Hoa Lo Street.
But it has failed to attract enough passengers with officials and tourism industry insiders blaming this on the small number of buses, long wait times and high ticket prices besides offering lackluster services.
Recently HCMC has announced plans for similar buses.
Open-top tour buses are popular in many major cities around the world, including New York and Singapore.
Last year Ha Long joined Saigon and Hanoi among the world’s top 100 most visited destinations, according to the annual Top City Destinations Ranking report by Euromonitor International.
The country received 7.3 million visitors in January-May this year, up 8.8 percent from a year ago, putting it on track to meet its full-year target of 18 million, according to the General Statistics Office.
With the changes made to visa policies, the tourism industry hopes to get 17-20 million foreign visitors by 2020 and revenues of $35 billion a year, accounting for 10 percent of GDP compared to 7.5 percent last year.
Last year a record 15.4 million visitors came to the country, a whopping 20 percent increase from 2017.