Lately, canals Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe, Tau Hu - Ben Nghe, Tan Hoa - Lo Gom, Doi - Te have been invested and renovated to facilitate the development of waterway transportation and tourism.
From 2013, Ho Chi Minh City has started exploiting waterway tourism, which attracts many investors. However, currently, there are only 19 enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City with 100 boats.
This shows that the tourism development potential of the city has not been fully exploited. According to enterprises, the city intended to develop waterway tourism but it has not taken heeds of infrastructure including building enough stopover stations.
In addition, the closure of Bach Dang wharf in District 1 and some wharves in district 4 worsened the matter, leaving many businesses with no places to welcome passengers or to stop over floating restaurants on the river, so they had to give up or change business.
The Department of Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City also said that the system of piers, shelters, berths on tours is insufficient. Not to mention, the heavily polluted water source, encroached canals, monotonous landscapes, bad water flows movements all make it difficult for boats to circulate and eventually hinder the development of water-borne products.
While road transport is overloaded, we have not had any large-scale projects to promote the development of transport infrastructure. According to the Department of Transport of Ho Chi Minh City, the city has 71 inland waterways but most of them are temporary and small; therefore, they failed to meet the increasing demand. In the last five years, the total investment capital for construction of waterway transport structures has been about VND 1,200 billion (US$51 million) only accounting for 4.3 percent of the road investment.
The Department of Transport proposed that the government needs to improve the mechanism and policies to attract investment in the form of public - private partnership (PPP), creating favorable conditions for businesses to join as investment capital is limited.
The tourist route to District 7 also attracts many businesses such as the marina of the Evergreen project; Ngoi Sao Viet; Inner-city tourist route on Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe canal with 25 vehicles with a capacity of 7-40 people, and an average number of passengers at each terminal 1. 000 turns a month.
Presently, four available waterway tours less than 10 kilometers which have been connected with wharves Cau Mong- Nha Rong - Khanh Hoi, Bach Dang, Tan Cang, Thao Dien, Binh Quoi 1 and 2 including different services attracted visitors.
In the past time, the Department of Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City coordinated with the Department of Transpor and the Department of Construction to support water tourism businesses by spending more on water wharves to serve tourists as well as enriching products to serve visitors to Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe route; building the project "Phan Xich Long Food Street" associated with the addition of a marina in Rach Mieu area which are expected to open this year.
Studies on water tourism services in cities have showed that the ports serving domestic and international vessels are located in the city center such as Singapore, Amsterdam of the Netherlands, Helsinki of Finland, Bangkok of Thailand.
Therefore, many experts proposed Ho Chi Minh City continue planning to operate the Saigon - Khanh Hoi wharf to create more attraction of the southern metropolitan associated with the Saigon River, promoting the development of waterway tourism.
At the same time the city should operate pier 3, No. 4, Bach Dang wharf and wharf in District 7 as well as make policies to encourage businesses to invest in exploiting tourism products.