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Vendors – problem or beauty of Vietnam’s tourism?

Peddled wares can be seen in every country in the world, including developed economies. The thing that Vietnam needs to do is turn peddled ware shoulder poles (carrying poles) into the special characteristic to attract tourists, instead of the “threat to the tourism” that state management agencies need to eliminate.

While a lot of foreigners and Vietnamese people have voiced their complaints that Vietnamese vendors try to invite travelers to buy goods with insistence, thus bothering travelers–especially foreigners, others believe that vending should be seen as an original characteristic of Vietnam instead of an “evil.”

“Inviting insistently” better than “keeping indifferent”

Entreating travelers to buy goods, forcing foreign travelers to buy souvenirs at exorbitant prices, cheating travelers with low quality goods all have been cited as the big problems of Vietnam’s tourism that cause a headache to the state management agencies.

However, unlike many other foreign travelers, who complained that they are bothered by vendors, in Vietnam, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization WTO Taleb Rifai believes that this might not be a “big problem.”

Commenting about the vendors pursuing travelers and inviting them to buy souvenirs, thus causing inconvenience to travelers, or the spontaneous development of “pavement restaurants and shops”, he said this is really a serious problem that hinders the development of the tourism industry in many countries in the world. However, he has not seen the problem in Vietnam.

He went on to say that he can name 40 of 50 other countries which meet more troubles with their problems that Vietnam. When asked about the comments on social networks by some foreign travelers about the bad things of Vietnam’s tourism, he said that social networks are the forums, where everyone can share his thoughts, and that the stories with negative information about Vietnam should not be seen as a big problem.

In Vietnam, foreign travelers can communicate easily with local residents, because a lot of people can speak English. Meanwhile, in Europe, people meet big difficulties in communicating with the host residents, which is also can be seen a problem of tourism.

“I have been to Vietnam three times and I can see new things in Vietnam every time I come. The achievements that Vietnam’s tourism has gained are very clear,” he said. Especially, Mr Rifai also said he does not agree with the viewpoint that in Vietnam, vendors force travelers to sell goods dear.

“Expensive” is just a concept with relative meaning. Some countries, London, for example, even want to position themselves as expensive destinations, because this could be seen as a character that attracts travelers. And once travelers accept to spend money to buy the goods they are offered, this does not mean a serious problem.

Turning peddled wares into the special character to attract tourists

There were 980 million tourists of the globe in 2011, and the figure is forecast to rise to 1 billion in 2012. This means that one of every seven people on the earth went traveling.

Every country in the world and every tourism site all try to attract travelers with their special characteristics. Vending is one of the indigenous cultural features that can help attract tourists.

A research by Professor Annette Kim from MIT University showed that the peddle ware shoulder poles on the pavements of HCM City not only provide food, create jobs to 30 percent of the city’s residents, but also serves as the original characters to attract western travelers through “non-language images.”

For example, when one sees a roll of paper pressed under a brick, he should understand that someone nearby has petrol to sell. A man knocks a chopstick into a porcelain bowl when he wants to say that he sells noodles. Meanwhile, if one can see a tire, travelers can expect to see a shop when their tires can be patched.

Quoc Dung

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