The Hanoi traffic police’s suggestion to ban cycle rickshaws, or cyclos, from traveling on local streets has created a strong opposition among the capital’s travel firms.
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Speaking at a recent meeting, Hanoi police voiced their concerns about cyclos, saying they appear to be chaotic in the streets and hold up traffic.
However, according to many local travel firms, almost all foreign tourists take cyclo sightseeing tours around Hanoi.
The tourist companies have proposed that local authorities manage cyclos more effectively or forbid the traditional vehicle from traveling during rush hours instead of issuing a prohibition.
Ung Trong Tu, the deputy president of Hanoi Travel Club, said the cyclo is a traditional cultural tourism product of Hanoi like the auto rickshaws, or tuk tuks, in Thailand and Cambodia although he admitted that some cyclo drivers deliberately drive slowly to avoid losing strength, which causes traffic jams.
Tu also suggested local authorities ask cyclo drivers to travel in accordance with a proposed speed and itinerary.
“Authorities have to impose heavy punishments to make cyclo drivers carry out their business in order,” he said.
Le Hong Thuong, deputy director of Vietsky Travel Company, said many foreign tourists really enjoy cyclos. The traditional vehicle is often listed in sightseeing tour to ancient houses or to watch water puppetry shows.
“There are not many tourist attractions in Hanoi. So, if we cut the cyclo programme in our tours, they wouldn’t be attractive to visitors,” he said.
Nguyen Thi Hien, deputy director of Vietran Tour, said many tourist parties have asked to include a cyclo tour in their itineraries so they can see and take pictures of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
“If the government eliminates cyclos, it means we will lose a traditional cultural feature. And it would be very difficult to restore it,” Hien said.
However, Luu Duc Ke, director of Hanoi Tourist Company, said cyclos on the streets cause more chaos than ever. Tourists say they don’t feel safe or comfortable anymore when they sit on them in blocked streets.
“We had to cut cyclo tours in Hanoi after receiving many complaints from foreign tourists,” Ke said. “I think we could ban cyclos if the service doesn’t have a good quality or it’s difficult for local authorities to manage the three-wheeled vehicle.”