Authorities in this historic town are getting stricter about enforcing the mandatory entrance ticket policy, but their failure to explain the abrupt change has caused confusion among tourists, with many complaining about the fee on social media.
Foreigners pay VND120,000 (about US$6) and locals pay VND80,000 to visit the old town, which includes entrance to five major destinations.
The city added more ticket checkpoints early this month in order to limit the loss of revenue stemming from unauthorised ticket sales.
"The city started selling package tickets for tourists in 1995. Its common practice for world heritage sites. Tourists visiting destinations have to pay a fee, which goes towards conserving the heritage site and benefiting the local people," vice chairman of the citys Peoples Committee Truong Van Bay said. "We have not seen any protests from tourists or travel agencies about the fee. But the citys administration failed to explain it clearly and the poor manners of inspectors added to the confusion among tourists."
The vice chairman said the city hosted 1.6 million tourists last year, including 750,000 who stayed in the town. However, only 500,000 paid the entrance fee.
The city made VND76 billion (US$3.6 million) from tickets, only 80 per cent of the expected revenue. This was especially costly as Hoi An has to invest in night festivals in the old town seven days a week.
The vice chairman said some travel agencies intentionally did not include the ticket in the tour programme, so tourists had to pay for it on their own.