Da Nang, Vietnam’s fourth largest city and its central region’s most important sea port, will become the first city in the country to allow foreign tourist cruise ships to keep their casinos open after docking, reported local media.
Vietnamese newspapers quoted Tran Chi Cuong, deputy director of Da Nang’s tourism department, saying the restrictions will be lifted this month in a bid to help the city attract more visitors.
“We have reviewed all relevant legal documents and found no rules that require foreign ships to close certain services when docking in Vietnam,” Mr Cuong said, according to Vietnamese news outlet Tuoi Tre News.
“The services must be allowed to remain open to attract more ships [to Da Nang] and encourage them to stay overnight,” added the official.
Da Nang’s Tien Sa Port (pictured) is expected to handle more than 110 cruise ships in 2016, said Mr Coung. Da Nang welcomed 1.26 million international tourists last year, up by 34 percent year-on-year, according to the reports.
A ship operated by Hong Kong-based Star Cruises (HK) Ltd will be the first to benefit from the new policy, reported the Thanh Nien newspaper. Genting Hong Kong Ltd – part of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd – operates casino facilities in its Star Cruises-branded vessels.
Foreign cruise operators have reportedly been requesting for years to keep their casinos open while docked at Vietnamese ports, but to no avail. The intention was to allow passengers the full range of their ships’ entertainment options if they chose not to disembark, according to reports.
Vietnam has several casinos but the government prohibits Vietnamese punters from gambling at home, unless they hold a foreign passport. Cruise operators quoted in Thanh Nien’s report said their activities at Vietnam’s ports would not circumvent the government’s ban because any person who wanted to get on their ships would need to go through immigration procedures.
The Vietnamese government is expected to release in the first half of this year a new set of rules to promote the development of the country’s gaming industry, stated Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, an academic who says he is advising the government on liberalising Vietnam’s gaming industry.
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Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau