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Tourism Law needs to be amended to protect tourists

Establishing a tourism police force, applying the common fares for both domestic and international tourists, controlling quality of tour guides are proposed to add to the amended Law on Tourism.

At the workshop on the implementation of the Law on Tourism on February 29, Huynh Tan Vinh, Chairman of the Tourism Association of Danang City, said that protection of visitors must be legalized and it is needed to have tourism police to protect the interests of tourists.

He also suggested applying the one-fare policy for all tourists. “The Law on Tourism says that the tourism industry is the key economic sector. However, hotels have to pay highest charges for power, clean water and taxes compare to other service providers,” Vinh added.

Nguyen Phuong Mai, head of the Tourism Operation Department of Thua Thien-Hue Province, said that managing tour guide is very loose. She proposed to strictly control tourist boats to avoid accidents.

Trinh Bang Co, director of Phuong Dong Viet Tourism Company, said that it is unfair for travel agents that offer outbound services will have to double their collateral deposit at banks to VND500 million (US$23,800) against the current rate, according to a draft decree on revising regulations of the Law on Tourism.

Current regulations set a collateral deposit of VND250 million for both outbound and inbound tourism. The draft compiled by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) leaves the deposit for travel firms with inbound services unchanged, but doubles the rate for firms offering only outbound or both services.

However, the draft also allows travel firms to negotiate their deposit interest rates with banks directly, instead of receiving non-term interest rates regulated by the State Bank of Vietnam.

The collateral deposit is intended to be used as compensation for tourists when travel agents violate their contracts or deal with risks the tourists encounter.

Travel agents were concerned that the draft would cause them difficulty if approved. They said that since most travel agencies were small- and medium-sized enterprises, the new capital regulations would place a strain on operations.

Agents also said that the collateral deposit was currently used in an irrational manner. The deposit was now considered ‘dead’ money as travel firms could not make use of it. It is hard for travel firms to withdraw the deposit to compensate for tourists because the current regulations are not detailed. Currently, compensation is usually paid out by insurance agencies or by the travel firms themselves.

VNAT’s representative, Dr. Trinh Xuan Dung, said that the amended Law on Tourism will be considered and submitted to the National Assembly in March 2013.

S. Tung

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