Nguyet Mai has lived in Hai Phong for most of her life. After a year of studying in Hanoi, she returned to the city and found out one of her favorite bakeshops had increased its prices. Unfortunately, this is the result of the growing prominence of food tours in the city.
“Hai Phong used to be popular for cheap but tasty food, but now prices have gone up for most of the shops. It makes me have a negative feeling when I come back to my hometown," Mai said.
Hai Phong originally captured the attention of tourists with its spectacular beaches such as Do Son and Cat Ba. From January to May 2022, Do Son had over 1,150,000 visitors, achieving 70% of its tourism plan this year and accounting for 50% of the number of travelers to Hai Phong in the first five months of 2022.
Recently, to further push the tourism industry, Hai Phong Department of Tourism released “Hai Phong Foodtour" program, providing a food tour map for visitors to experience the diverse culinary delights this port city has to offer. This has led to a significant increase in the number of local and foreign tourists flocking into the city.
Every weekend, each train from Hanoi to Hai Phong carries over 2000 passengers, all eager to explore Hai Phong on their quick weekend getaway. Although Thanh Quyen, a resident of the city, is happy to see her hometown getting more buzz, she is quite frustrated at the fact that it gets crowded to the point it is affecting the lives of the locals.
“There are now lines of people at all the popular food spots in the city. You have to wait for a long time to eat. Besides, whenever I want to go back to Hai Phong and visit my family, it is getting difficult to book a train ticket as they are all sold out most of the time.”
In June 2022, according to Hai Phong Department of Tourism, 576,298 tourists visited Hai Phong, an increase of 116.2% compared to June 2021, nearly 29,000 of them were foreign travelers. Profits in June were expected to reach 518.7 billion VND, which is 99.2% higher than the same period last year.
Deputy Director of Hai Phong Department of Tourism Vu Huy Thuong shared in a VietnamPlus article that in the coming months, the city’s tourism industry will continue to perform a number of key tasks and focus on developing inner city tourism products.
The department will develop an outline of the project "Overall tourism development in Hai Phong city to 2025, orientation to 2030" and implement a plan to investigate, evaluate and classify tourism resources. They will also develop plans to survey tourist attractions in the city to evaluate and propose management plans.
Seeing how tourism flow boomed in the first half of the year, and all the upcoming initiatives by the city’s tourism department, there’s no doubt that Hai Phong is set for incredible economic developments.
But like all other destinations in Vietnam that have drawn tourists’ attention, Hai Phong may also suffer from overtourism. The government needs to find a balance between what it can offer to tourists and how it can serve its residents.
The rising prices among products that used to be enjoyed by the locals at much cheaper prices are already a cause for alarm. If officials want to push forward with their visions, it should be done in a sustainable way, thinking ahead not just for the present.