HCM City authorities plan to develop river tourism and make it the city’s main tourism product by 2020.

The draft “Waterway, tourism development strategy of HCM City in the 2013-15 period with a vision to 2020” envisages building and renovating many pier and organising many sport and cultural events annually.

By 2015 the city will renovate and build 50 wharves to operate boats to tourist destination.

It will develop 65 tourist attractions that can be accessed by water and build three community-tourism attractions in District 9, Cu Chi and Can Gio.

This month seven river tours will be started from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 to sites in Binh Quoi, Cu Chi and District 9.

The waterway tourism project has a budget of 11 trillion VND (526 million USD), of which 1 trillion VND (47.8 million USD) will come from taxpayers’ money and the rest from other sources.

Authorities hope to respectively increase the number of waterway tourists and revenues by 20 percent and 30 percent annually.

They will organise cultural and sport activities, and other events associated waterway tourism every year at Bach Dang Wharf , Nha Rong Wharf and Mong Bridge and develop water sports, resorts, and wellness centres in Can Gio, Cu Chi and District 9.

The city administration has instructed Saigontourist, a travel firm, to begin operating river tours from the downtown area to ancient temples and pagodas in Districts 5 and 6, and through the Ben Nghe and Tau Hu canals to the Mekong Delta. With about 1,000 km of rivers and canals functioning, HCM City has enormous potential in waterway tourism.

From the city centre, there are navigable rivers and canals in all four directions and to key economic zones in neighbouring areas.

In the last few years waterway tourism has been expanding, especially the route form Bach Dang Wharf to Cu Chi.

But its development has fallen short of the potential due to a lack of modern facilities, according to the Department of Transport.

Under another master plan, downtown HCM City will be trasformed into a modern city centre with more green space, pedestrian-only streets, and efficient public transport including tram and rapid bus transit systems and ferries.-VNA