Update: 11:44 | 30/08/2021
Authorities in Quang Binh decided entry tickets to many of its famous caves including the world's largest Son Doong would be cut by half from next year to stimulate tourism.
The 50-percent entry fee reduction will be applied to popular cave tours like Phong Nha, Tu Lan, Son Doong, Rao Thuong Stream-En and Nuoc Lanh Caves, Hamada Valley-Tra Ang Cave and Dai A-Over-Pigmy Caves.
Foreign tourists inside En Cave in Quang Binh Province, 2019.
The move aims to revive the local tourism industry hit hard by the severe impacts of the Covid pandemic and help local tour operators overcome difficulties post-pandemic.
Currently, entry fees to Son Doong cost $660 per person, according to major tour operator Oxalis Adventure, while entry tickets to Phong Nha Cave cost VND120,000 ($5.24) per person and Hamada Valley-Tra Ang Cave, VND200,000.
The central province's authorities also decided to reduce by 20 percent entry tickets to popular tourist destinations like Phong Nha-Tien Son, Mooc Stream eco-tourism site, Thien Duong Cave, and Chay River-Dark Cave tourist site.
Quang Binh welcomed 540,000 visitors in the first half of 2021, down 41 percent year-on-year. Many travel operators have offered big discounts to attract domestic tourists in an effort to survive amid the new Covid-19 outbreak and create income for local guides and porters.
Many areas in Quang Binh, including Dong Hoi, capital of the province, were placed under strict lockdown measures after recording a series of domestic infections. Quang Binh has recorded 245 community transmissions during the ongoing outbreak that hit the country on April 27.
The number of Vietnamese exploring caves in Quang Binh last year reached a record high amid the Covid-19 pandemic, at 6,000, thrice more than the previous years, according to Oxalis.
The company said tours to Son Doong for 2021 are fully booked and that the cave would be closed to tourists from September until the year-end to allow recovery of its ecosystem.