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Assn mulls setting up center to protect tourists

The Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) is seeking approval from relevant authorities to set up a center to protect foreign tourists from scams on their trips to the country, VITA Chairman Nguyen Huu Tho told Tuoi Tre.

Tho said the Ho Chi Minh City authorities have repeatedly called for an establishment of the tourism police force to better protect foreign tourists from being ripped off or cheated, but the proposals have never been green-lighted.

“Alternatively, the municipal government has formed the tourism guard teams in a bid to curb the scams targeting tourists in the city,” Tho said.

Earlier at the meeting to implement the development plan of the national tourism industry, VITA chairman also urged the localities to seek more solutions to ensure safety for foreign tourists, since the industry is promoting Vietnam as a safe tourism destination.

However, Tho admitted that the tourist guard force had failed to intervene or stop holidaymakers from being robbed by street vendors and service owners.

He said VITA had called on the municipal People’s Committee to set up a “tourist center,” which will function not only as a tourism information supplier, but also as a government body to protect tourists.

Models of such a center have been built in many developed countries, and they have been functioning effectively, he added.

“The center is expected to co-ordinate all relevant agencies such as the police, security, hospital, and immigration control to fully handle all of the issues related to tourists’ safety and security,” he elaborated.

“The center will receive reports from the tourists themselves, or other residents, and will co-ordinate relevant agencies to handle the problems within the shortest time.”

Tho said the municipal people’s committee had appreciated the center’s model, and promised to put it into existence in the future.

VITA also called on the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to establish the center in other tourism centers around the country such as Nha Trang, Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, and Da Nang.

Regarding the complaint that the tourism industry should have considered this issue earlier, Tho said it was the financial and human power problems that had delayed the plan being put on the table.

“At present, the country’s non-smoke industry has reached an adequate level that permits us to carry out the center model to better serve and protect the backpackers,” Tho stated.

Tho said many travel agencies had also proposed to contribute to the industry budget to strengthen the protection aimed at tourists.

“However, there needs to be a regulation concerning the specific contribution per tourist to ensure the plan will be effective proceeded with,” Tho said.

“Once all relevant regulations have been issued, I believe tour organizers will be willing to join their hands.”


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