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Cheating foreign tourists is not particular, says tourism official

The vice chief of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said that the media has reported many forms of swindling against tourists, so Matt Kepnes’article entitled “Why I’ll never return to Vietnam” on the Huffington Post (USA) is not an exception. However, the tourism industry has to learn experience from it to better serve tourists.

“Why I’ll never return to Vietnam” by blogger Matt Kepnes, writing about his trip to Vietnam, was posted on Huffington Post on December 30, 2011. The author stated: “After my experience there in 2007, I’ll never go back to that country. Never, ever, ever. A business trip or a girlfriend may force me there in the future, but for as long as I can see down the road, I’ll never touch down again in that country.”

Explaining his statement, Kepnes recalled his tour to Vietnam several years ago. According to him, street sellers constantly tried to overcharge him and did not give back the proper change; the cabbie rigged his meter, those who sell T-shirts in Hoi An tried to keep him in their store until he bought something; the tour boat on Ha Long bay did not have water etc.Vu The Binh, Chairman of the Vietnam Travel Association, said that Kepnes’ comments are normal because each country has good and bad things. However, all opinions must be respected and considered carefully.

“It is no problem because there are always different views about tourist sites. Vietnamese people often prefer compliments than criticism. We need to be gradually familiar to criticism to mend our ways. This article is not so worrying but it is the alarming bell that reminds tourism service providers to correct,” Binh said.

According to him, the story of Kepnes is partly true and part of it is overstatement. However, the tourism sector needs to deal with phenomena like robbery, hygiene and environment, street sellers who pursue tourists. Tourist services must be controlled closely so that foreign tourists will only consider the above phenomena unpopular.

Binh said that tourism industry has developed in many locations but the people’s awareness of tourism is still poor and tourism culture has not been formed, resulted in overcharging and cheating behaviors. Local authorities have to learn from experience and take measures to address this situation.

Doan Thanh Tra, from Saigontourist, said that Vietnam has changed a lot since 2007, when Kepnes traveled Vietnam. However, what he experienced still exists in some places, even in big cities.

Tra said that Kepnes’ comments may make many foreign tourists dislike Vietnam tourism but it urges Vietnam to look back on its tourism. “Whenever Vietnamese people still think that tourism development is the job of the state and someone else, not themselves, they will still treat tourists based on their personal interests,” she said.

Nguyen Manh Cuong, Vice chief of VNAT, said that the media has reported various forms of swindling against tourists. The story by Kepnes, therefore, is not an exception. Cheating visitors is alarming.

“The top solution of Vietnam’s tourism industry now is raising responsibility of local governments,” Cuong said, citing that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has recently asked Khanh Hoa province to deal with swindling taxi services and improve hygiene and environment.

Cuong said that the story may make adverse impacts on Vietnam tourism but the tourism sector must learn from it to improve service quality.

Le Ha

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