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Travel firms, hotels want to quote prices in foreign currencies

The enterprises operating in the tourism sector have proposed government agencies to allow them to quote the prices of products and services in popular foreign currencies such as Euro or US dollars, instead of Vietnam dong, in order to make it easier to understand for foreign travelers.

Under the current regulations, Vietnam dong is the only currency which can be used in the transactions in the Vietnamese territory, while the prices of services and products also must be quoted in Vietnam dong.

The State Bank of Vietnam has recently decided to impose a find of 500 million dong on Thong Nhat Metropole Hotel for its behavior of posting prices in foreign currencies.

The government has issued the Decree No 95 stipulating the fines on the violations of the regulations in the monetary and banking sector, which took effect on October 20, 2011. The decree says that the fine on the price posting in foreign currencies would be 300-500 million dong, which is much higher than the previously applied levels.

The information has raised worries to other hotels and travel firms. Nguyen Hoang Anh Phi, Director of the Saigon Hotel in district 1, said that though he ordered to remove all the price quotations in dollars, mistake was still made: the inspection delegation discovered that an ad piece at the lift posted the price of a lunch at five dollars.

Phi said that a foreign travel firm even refused to sign contract with the hotel just because it did not know exactly how much were the hotel room rates. The problem was that the hotel room rates were quoted in Vietnam dong, while the hotel could not show the details in dollars, because it feared it would violate the laws if doing so.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Hong, Director of Vien Dong Hotel, said that her officers usually feel worried when foreign travelers come and ask about hotel room rates. Travelers always ask them to show the prices in dollars which help them more easily remember and calculate the costs for the trips. However, the officers could not do that, because they would be punished if inspectors witnessed the conversations.

Hong said that if quoting prices in dong, hotels and travel firms would have to update the prices regularly, maybe several times within a day, just because of the heavy exchange rate fluctuations. This is really a big waste of time for businesses.

According to Tu Quy Thanh, Director of Lien Bang Travelink, travel firms always feel worried when contacting with foreign partners through emails. Foreign partners always ask the price quotations in dollars; while Vietnamese travel firms would be violating the laws if the emails are discovered by management agencies.

Thanh went on to say that in many cases, foreign partners think that Vietnamese travel firms are not professional, because Vietnamese firms sell products to international buyers, but still quote prices in Vietnam dong.

Vietnamese travel firms have proposed the government to allow them to post prices in foreign currencies and make payment in dong. If the proposal cannot be accepted, they wish to quote prices in dong, but then convert the dong into dollars.

The travel firms said that state management agencies need to apply reasonable measures to help them overcome the current difficulties. A lot of partners from Japan and Europe have expressed their dissatisfaction with the transactions where the prices are quoted only in Vietnam dong.

Lai Huu Phuong, Director of Ben Thanh Tourism, said that Vietnam is losing foreign travelers just because of the regulation on quoting price in dong. He said that the ban on quoting prices in foreign currencies should be applied only to the goods and services to be provided in the domestic market. Meanwhile, inbound tours should be seen as a kind of “export on the spot.”

SGTT

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