Two locally registered travel firms in Da Nang have been dealt a tough hand as local authorities seek to sweep arising Chinese-related issues from the central Vietnamese tourism hub.
Chinese arrivals to Da Nang in the first half of this year topped 211,000, a solid 83 percent increase from the same period last year.
Unfortunately, high tourist numbers are contributing little to the local budget, as Chinese tourists are often only taken to Chinese-owned stores and services by their compatriots, who illegally work as tour guides.
The illicit foreign guides have been stealing jobs from locals and giving distorted accounts of Vietnam’s history, prompting officials to start cracking down on the unlawful activities.
The municipal tourism department has joined hands with its public security counterpart to inspect citywide travel firms between July 11 and 18, the results of which were submitted in a report to the administration on Wednesday.
Inspectors found and handled a series of cases, and are considering tougher penalties for those Vietnamese using their names to back companies that are in fact Chinese-owned, Tran Chi Cuong, director of the tourism department, said the same day.
On Thursday last week, a joint inspection team raided the Nature Love Co., located in Son Tra District, and found five Chinese nationals working there.
Inspectors discovered the company breaching numerous violations, including allowing Chinese people to engage in tourism activities under the business license granted to a Vietnamese entity.
The Chinese at Nature Love have been working illegally as tour guides in the city, and taking on other types of work without obtaining a permit from relevant agencies, according to inspectors.
The firm was thus fined VND12.5 million (US$558) and had its license revoked for two years.
The city’s immigration office has also slapped a total civil fine of VND94.4 million ($4,214) on the five Chinese nationals at the firm. Four of them have been ordered to leave Vietnam earlier than their allowed stay.
On July 6, inspectors caught Pham Thi Thu Hien, a local resident, guiding a group of Chinese tourists at the Linh Ung Pagoda in Son Tra without a tour guide license.
The visitors were on a tour organized by Lead Step Co. in Cam Le District, which was later fined VND12.5 million for using an unregistered tour guide.
Besides Da Nang, the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, home to the famed beach city of Nha Trang, is confronted by the same issues brought about by the rising arrival of Chinese visitors.
The provincial administration has called on the public to notify authorities immediately if they spot illegal Chinese taking tourists to local attractions.
The administration has also requested relevant agencies to tighten their checks on China-related activities and be ready to force those who flout the local laws to leave Vietnam and, in severe cases, ban them from reentering the country.