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In Sa Pa, ethnic children forced to peddle on streets in bitterly cold night

Sunday, January 10, 2021, 21:38 GMT+7
In Sa Pa, ethnic children forced to peddle on streets in bitterly cold night
A Hmong child carries a smaller sibling on the back in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

As the mercury of the highland tourist hub of Sa Pa approaches zero, child street vendors of ethnic minorities were still seen roaming through the shivering cold to pursue the remaining tourists.

Despite the effort of Sa Pa authorities to discourage purchasing goods from child street vendors, children of the upland city, the majority being Hmong, are still pushed to the streets to peddle in the cold.

According to Ngoc Anh from the Sa Pa Town law enforcement, families seem to have cooperated and keep their children home after discussing with local authorities, but there is still a street vending group harassing tourists in the town.

The group is organized by parents who gather their kids at specific spots and let the bigger children carry the smaller ones on their back to take advantage of tourists' pity.

Officials use a loudspeaker to call for visitors not to buy goods from child vendors in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Video: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

If a tourist buys from one of them, the others will quickly swarm around and paster them to purchase more.

“We have imposed a penalty on many cases and led the kids to a social support center, but they jump the wall to escape and resume vending jobs the very next day,” Anh said.

The sight of children braving the cold to sell souvenirs is too heart-wrenching, said Tran Thinh, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City.

“I can do charity work at other places, not just situations like these. The parents are using these kids to sell stuff, which makes me feel like my goodwill is being abused,” Thinh remarked.

A child vendor sells souvenirs to tourists in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A child vendor sells souvenirs to tourists in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Hoang Thi Vuong, head of Sa Pa’s bureau of culture and information, said local authorities have stepped in to address the issue of street vendors harassing tourists for several years, but their efforts have not paid off.

According to Vuong, officials in the town have implemented a long-term strategy, with the promotion of sustainable business practices to ethnic minority communities being the bottom line.

“We are listening to the wishes of each household. If they want to do retail, we will provide them with locations and capacity training. We will also build policy to support other households who wish to get livelihoods from brocade weaving, artisanal crafts, and tourism,” Vuong revealed.

Child vendors surround a tourist to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors surround a tourist to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A child vendor sells souvenirs on a street of Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A child vendor sells souvenirs on a street of Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A child vendor sells souvenirs to a tourist in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A child vendor sells souvenirs to a tourist in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors surrounds tourists to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors surround tourists to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Parents of child vendors is seen in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Parents of child vendors is pictured in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors sells foods to tourists in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors sell foods to tourists in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors surrounds tourists to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Township. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Child vendors surround tourists to sell souvenirs in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Vu Tuan / Tuoi Tre

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