According Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, plans are underway to realize the area’s river tourism potential with a focus on Cần Giờ Mangrove Forest.
Nguyen Viet Anh, head of the Travel Division under the Department said that the first investment priority is the planning and building of three stopover stations in Can Gio. Travel companies are also quick to grab this opportunity. The Cần Giờ District-based Phi Long Boat Joint-Stock Company plans to develop swift farming on an area of more than 50ha in Cần Giờ and build a center to exhibit Vietnam’s swift nests. It has also invested in two passenger ships, one carrying 400 passengers and the other 200 with a view to open a Cần Giờ - Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu Province river tour.
Phi Long is not the first tourist company to recognize Cần Giờ’s potential as an ecotourism spot, however. Last year, Viet Excursion launched two pilot tours in Cần Giờ Mangrove Forest near Thị Vải River over the past five months. One tour lets tourists row kayaks in the forest, visit salt fields on foot, and climb the 10-meter-high Giồng Chùa Mountain. The other one gives tourists the chance to travel by boat to visit the forest and listen to a tour guide describing the flora and fauna there. Both tours were met with success, attracting about 1000 foreign tourists, most from Germany and the US.
Cần Giờ District is home to Can Gio Mangrove Forest, which has been listed as the biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The site is an important sanctuary in Vietnam as it is characterized by a wetland bio-system dominated by mangrove and many rare species. As it is a protection forest, extensive research needs to be conducted to utilize rivers and canals in tourism development in the most socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.