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Local authorities need to join forces to stop overcharging

Vietnamese people, after violently criticizing the overcharging to “clean the tourism sector” have offered a lot of suggestions to stop the evil.

Associate Professor Dr Pham Trung Luong, Deputy Head of the Tourism Research and Development Institute:

I think that there are two reasons behind the overcharging – the lack of the awareness of people and the loosened management of the watchdog agencies.

Many Vietnamese people only try to sell high to obtain high immediate benefits and they forget that they need to be self-respecting. The thing usually happens in a society where the people’s awareness is still poor.

It is necessary to upgrade the capability of management agencies, or the overcharging evil would never be settled. It is also necessary to impose heavy fines if any overcharging activities are discovered.

However, people’s awareness will only be upgraded if the living standard improves. If people are still poor, they would have to overcharge to earn enough money.

Now I feel a big pessimism because I still cannot see any solutions to ease the overcharging. 12 years ago, the Prime Minister released a legal document on strengthening the security measures and environment protection at tourism sites. However, no considerable improvement has been made since.

Tran The Dung, Deputy Director of The He Tre Travel Firm

In the immediate time, I think we can apply some measures as follows

1) Local authorities have to take responsibility for the evils in their localities. For example, when travelers were overcharged for the fish they bought at the Ha Long Bay, the bay management board must not stay as the outsider. The board of management has been assigned by the state to manage the bay and sell excursion tickets.

In the past, Nguyen Tri Dien, Chair of Da Lat City once intervened in a case where a hotel overcharged a traveler. Most recently, Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of Hoi An City also instructed to discipline a barber shop owner who overcharged foreigners.

2) Establishing tourism security companies

15 years ago, HCM City once proposed to set up a tourism police force. However, the proposal was not approved. The security officers of the Thanh Nien Xung Phong Company which provides services for public interests have been assigned the task instead. However, in fact, the force could not help prevent the overcharging, and in many cases, they are even intimidated by gangsters.

If the State does not agree to the model of tourism police, should we establish professional security companies which have the staff with good foreign language skills and martial arts, necessary tools to protect themselves and travelers.

3) Helping people increase income

The income of many domestic tour guides is not high enough for their lives. Once they live in poverty, they would not have enough enthusiasm to serve travelers.

I think that travel firms should apply the pay mechanism which is being applied in other countries. Besides the tour fees, travelers also give tips to the people who serve them directly. In other South East Asian countries, travelers have to spend 3 dollars a day to drivers and guides.

4) Travelers should be well informed

Tour operators, tour guides should provide sufficient information and concrete warnings to travelers, so that travelers can keep cautious during their trips.

Nguyen Quy Phuong, Head of the Travel Department of the Vietnam National Tourism Administration VNAT

Local authorities need to take responsibility for the evil. It is clear that the quality of the destinations decides the quality of tourism products. VNAT alone will not be able to settle the problem. In dealing with the evil, local authorities need to join forces.

It is also necessary to upgrade people’s awareness. They should understand that if tourists keep away from Vietnam, they would lose revenues.

Ngoc Ha – Tran The Dung

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