Chinese nationals would never have been able to work illegally as tour guides in Vietnam had not been for a helping hand from local tourism employees, head of the Vietnamese tourism watchdog said.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) held a press conference on July 1 to address increasing concern over the rise of Chinese nationals working as illegally tour guides in several popular destinations, including Da Nang and Nha Trang.
“There are some Vietnamese businesses and agencies abetting the unlicensed Chinese tour guides,” VNAT head Nguyen Van Tuan underlined at the meeting.
According to the Vietnamese tourism law, foreigners are not allowed to work as tour guides in Vietnam, so “anyone violating such a rule should be sanctioned properly,” Tuan added.
According to the VNAT head, the number of Chinese visitors has increased significantly recently, especially in some reputed destinations, causing a huge demand for tour guides who are able to speak Chinese.
However, there is a shortage of such capable Vietnamese guides. Additionally, most Chinese travel agencies are notorious for trying to manipulate the services in other countries in order to maximize their profits.
The process of managing and verifying tourism services in Vietnam is still cumbersome and it needs to be changed, Tuan said.
“Punishing unlicensed Chinese tour guides is a complicated matter, requiring the collaboration of both the local authority and the police,” he elaborated.
“Obviously, there must be certain local tourism agencies lending their hands to this illegal activity, and this kind of assistance should be punished appropriately.”
Vu The Binh, deputy president of the Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA), said that Chinese travel agencies are always trying to bribe Vietnamese businesses, adding some Vietnamese companies or individuals are partly helping the illegal Chinese tour guides.
“Most Chinese travel agencies charge the Chinese tourists a very small fee, so they have to charge the tourists dearly from other services like shopping and eating to recoup the profit,” Binh explained.
Binh added that the Chinese even establish their own shops and eateries at some famous attractions in Vietnam and the unlicensed Chinese tour guides are responsible for luring the tourists to these places. The VTA official warned that if the Vietnamese government and other responsible agencies could not tackle the problem, the tourism industry of Vietnam could suffer a great loss.
For instance, many Russian and British visitors dare not to visit the beautiful coastal city of Nha Trang in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa because this place is always packed with Chinese tourists.
“I cannot imagine what Nha Trang will be like in the future,” Binh lamented.
“If there is no balance of the tourists’ nationalities and there is no proper planning, we, the Vietnamese people, will destroy our beautiful attractions.” Some Vietnamese tour guides are actually employed by Chinese travel agencies to cope with the government inspectors, if they are happened to be checked.
The VTA official therefore suggested that the government retract the license of those Vietnamese tour guides and re-establish a tourism inspection agency to help curb the problem.
“Making the Chinese vacationers happy is difficult and the increasing number of Chinese tourists contributes greatly to the development of our tourism industry,” he said.
“So we should establish more stringent regulations to be able to serve them.”