A number of Vietnamese tourist guides in the central city of Da Nang have become unemployed as their Chinese counterparts are being favorably hired by travel companies in a lucrative business scheme.
Around 100 local Chinese-speaking tour guides in Da Nang are jobless, according to Tran Tra, chairman of the city’s tour guide association.
The sidelining of Vietnamese tour guides who speak Chinese was also noted by Che Viet Dong, an experienced 33-year-old guide, who said that the situation played out right in the peak season with a great influx of visitors from China.
The irony, Dong explained, stemmed from the fact that many travel firms are employing tour guides coming from China to give assistance to Chinese tourists who arrive in Vietnam on ‘zero-dollar tours’ – packages offered at extraordinarily low prices.
Operators of ‘zero-dollar tours’ in Da Nang will offset the low prices by taking their clients primarily to shops they have established cooperation with, rather than to local places of interest, and receiving a hefty commission for every item purchased by the Chinese tourists.
To increase sales, these travel firms also hire unlicensed Chinese tour guides as they are able to build trust from their fellow countrymen and persuade them to buy goods at the shops better than their Vietnamese peers.
Vietnamese tour guides mainly play the nominal role of accompanying a Chinese tourist group and presenting relevant documents to the authorities when required.
The local tour guides may introduce an attraction but stop working when the Chinese visitors of a zero-dollar tour enter a shop.
Around ten travel companies in Da Nang are known to illegally cooperate with Chinese tour guides, according to Tra.
Local authorities handed a total fine of VND332.5 million ($14,300) to 20 Chinese tour guides working unlawfully in Vietnam during the first half of this year, according to Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy chairman of the Da Nang Department of Tourism.
Eleven of them were forced to leave Vietnam with invalidated passports and categorized as ineligible to enter the country, Binh added.