If Vietnam cannot eliminate pickpockets and stop the overcharging, it would fail to receive 7.2 million foreign travelers in 2013 as planned.
According to the General Statistics Office, in the first four months of 2013, Vietnam received 2.4 million travelers, a decrease of 5.3 percent from the same period of the last year.
In the last five years, 80-85 percent polled travelers said they don’t intend to return to Vietnam for the second and subsequent times. The 2012 survey of TripAdvisor showed that Hanoi was among the 10 cheapest tourist cities in the world this summer. 4.4 million foreign travelers arrived in Hanoi just within the first six months of 2012, but 70 percent of them don’t want to come back.
Vietnam has been put among the countries which can hope to see the highest tourism growth rates in the world. The US TOA has put Vietnam on the second position among the newly emerging destinations for foreign tourists in 2013. However, the number of foreign travelers to Vietnam remains too modest if compared with its great potentials.
On May 10, 2013, a group of French tourists arrived at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCM City after taking a long flight from Paris. After completing the check-in procedures at the airport, 33 French tourists came to a foreign exchange kiosk nearby to convert euro into dong to be spent during their stay in Vietnam. After that, the tourists were led to a sightseeing trip in HCM City.
When the tourists came to the Notre Dame and the city’s Post Office, the tour guide told the tourists that they could convert euro into dong to buy postcards to send to France, the tourists were exceedingly astonished when realizing that they were cheated when exchanging money at the airport.
“When I informed them that 10 euro could be converted into VND2.7 million, a lot of tourists felt displeased, because they could get VND2.07 million at the airport. This means that the service provided could pocket VND630,000 for every 100 euro from the service,” said Tran Thi Kim Hong, a tour guide from Indochina travel firm.
Mene Patrick, head of the group of tourists, decided to stop the sightseeing and come back to the Tan Son Nhat airport with the whole group to clarify the matter.
Finally, the French tourists got their money back and continued their trip as planned. The tour guide was given a sum of money in return for her keeping silent. However, Hong, refusing the sum of money, said to the officers at the foreign exchange kiosk that they should feel ashamed because their behaviors might tarnish the image of Vietnamese tourism.
Tran Dang Khoa, a well-known blogger, has called the behavior of overcharging and cheating travelers as a “national humiliation,” calling to impose punishment on the cheaters to polish the image of Vietnam and Vietnamese tourism.
“In Vietnam, you may have to pay money just for a seat at a restaurant, and at the exorbitant high price. The charging is a barbarian behavior which can easily and effectively kill the tourism industry,” he wrote.
“When someone is caught red handed conducting his illegal behavior, he would offer apology to people and give them back money. But this is not enough to keep the tourism healthy,” he continued.
(vietnamnet) - Duy Anh