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Vietnamese tour operator defies fine over stranded Taiwanese tourists

Vietnamese tour operator defies fine over stranded Taiwanese tourists

Friday, February 16, 2024, 16:15 GMT+7
Vietnamese tour operator defies fine over stranded Taiwanese tourists
Stranded Taiwanese tourists receive local support for a safe return to Taiwan from Phu Quoc Island off Kien Giang Province, located in southern Vietnam. Photo: H.D. / Tuoi Tre

A Vietnamese tour operator has defied local tourism authorities’ decision to fine them VND30 million (US$1,224) regarding a case in which nearly 300 Taiwanese tourists were left stranded on Phu Quoc Island off Kien Giang Province, located in southern Vietnam.  

Ha Tuan Minh, chairman and director of Winner International Travel Co. Ltd. in Phu Quoc, said that the firm plans to lodge a written complaint against this decision.

Minh expressed complete dissatisfaction, stating that the incident had tarnished the company’s reputation and the image of Phu Quoc tourism. 

He affirmed that Winner International Travel signed a contract with We Love Tour, a travel company in Taipei, Taiwan, to provide a tour to the Vietnamese island for the latter’s customers between Saturday last week and Wednesday this week.

As the Taiwanese partner failed to make payments before January 31 as committed, Winner International Travel sent a notice to unilaterally terminate the contract.

However, a group of nearly 300 Taiwanese tourists still arrived at Phu Quoc on Friday last week and found themselves stranded there.

Minh clarified that his company still served this Taiwanese tourist group in a humanitarian assistance capacity, emphasizing that they were unrelated to the customers his firm had previously quoted prices to We Love Tour for. 

However, the Kien Giang Department of Tourism singled out Winner International Travel for violations in the travel service business.

According to a Thursday night report by Bui Quoc Thai, director of the department, Winner International Travel unilaterally terminated the contract but retained the previous deposit of NT$700,000 (US$22,311) received on January 18. 

Upon the unexpected arrival of the nearly 300 Taiwanese tourists, Winner International Travel still provided services, including transportation and hotel bookings, and requested an additional payment of $720 per person. 

While 90 people agreed to the payment, the rest did not, although We Love Tour assured that they would refund the mentioned fee to the customers. 

The Kien Giang Department of Tourism cited Winner International Travel for providing services while “not having a travel contract with a certain business, tourists, or tourist representatives.”

Minh from Winner International Travel argued, “The Kien Giang Department of Tourism is imposing administrative sanctions for our humanitarian assistance to tourists, which was recognized by relevant units from Taiwan.

“The department’s evaluation of the situation is incorrect.”

The Taiwanese tourist group in question returned to Taiwan on Wednesday, according to Central News Agency (CNA).

On Thursday, Wang Kwo-tsai, head of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, told reporters in Taipei that We Love Tour may be subjected to a business suspension of up to three months due to negligence, citing regulations related to tourism and consumer protection, CNA reported.

ZIONTOUR, a Vietnamese travel agency that has worked with We Love Tour for 11 years, told CNA on Wednesday the Taiwanese travel agency repeatedly delayed payments to Vietnamese partners and owes money to at least four local operators.

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Bao Anh - Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre News

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