An Egyptian tourist that was robbed in downtown Ho Chi Minh City last week received a public apology from local authorities on Wednesday as she asserted that the incident did not ruin her feelings about Vietnam.
Representatives from the municipal Department of Tourism and the administration and police unit of Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, came to see Alaa Aldoh at her hotel to offer their apology, which the 22-year-old vacationer accepted.
After hearing that Aldoh was robbed of US$230 in cash and an ATM card by two bag snatchers in the area on March 11, the administration arranged a hotel for her.
“We are sorry for all the bad things that have happened to you recently,” Nguyen Van Cuong, deputy head of the tourist information support division at the tourism department, said to the tourist.
Le Tan Dat, chairman of Pham Ngu Lao Ward, who also offered Aldoh an apology, on behalf of local citizens gave her $230 to make up for the lost money.
The Egytian and a traveling companion arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on March 9 for a planned trip across Vietnam, she recalled at the meeting.
The pair was walking on Luong Huu Khanh Street when the robbers grabbed her bag containing cash and an ATM card. However, she did not have her passport and other important papers with her, she said.
After a failed attempt at chasing the bag snatchers, Aldoh eventually fell to the ground in tears.
Passers-by began to console her and some photos of the crying tourist were quickly uploaded and shared online.
The woman said those viral photos have somehow made her ‘famous’ in Vietnam.
The tourist added many people in Ho Chi Minh City who heard of her experience offered to provide free lodging and support.
When she visited the resort town of Da Lat in the Central Highlands earlier this week, some locals also recognized Aldoh and showed her what they had read about her in the media, she added.
Police in Pham Ngu Lao Ward said they received her complaint immediately after the incident and the chief officer of the unit apologized to her at that time.
Officers admitted that the lack of a surveillance camera system on Luong Huu Khanh Street makes it difficult to detect the bag snatchers.
Even after the experience, Aldoh says the robbery did not create ill-will towards Vietnam and she believes these two bag snatchers do not represent millions of other people in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Egyptian said Vietnam is a vast and beautiful country and she plans to return.
Her trip to Vietnam is the first journey she has decided to embark on since graduating and in her excitement for the trip she had carefully studied the country’s landscapes, and planned to visit numerous places from north to south.
Vu Dinh Quan, general director of Ben Thanh Tourist Company, said at the meeting the tour organizer will sponsor the entire trip for Aldoh and her friend “as a way to share their mishap.”