Vietnam will not set up a new police force to protect tourists as earlier planned, a representative from the Ministry of Public Security said at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.
Instead, the public security ministry will cooperate with relevant ministries to ensure safety for holidaymakers in the country, Colonel Vu Van Toan, deputy head of the economic security department under the ministry, said at the meeting organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Ho Chi Minh City administration.
The meeting was held to recap one year of implementing the government’s Directive No.18 on enhancing management of the tourism environment and ensuring safety and security for tourists, which took effect in September last year.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities have repeatedly proposed forming a tourist police unit to ensure safety for holidaymakers in the city.
“One year after following Directive No.18, Ho Chi Minh City has made some achievements but there are still challenges such as pickpockets, robberies, and dishonest taxis,” Nguyen Thi Hong, the city’s deputy chairwoman, was quoted by Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper as saying at the meeting.
Hong said these crimes have affected the friendly image of the city and its tourist attraction policy, so the municipal administration has called on the central government to set up the tourist police force.
Van Thi Bach Tuyet, director of the municipal tourism department, also said Ho Chi Minh City is particularly in need of a police force to protect tourists.
In Directive No.18 the government did task the public security ministry with conducting studies on the feasibility of setting up a tourist police force.
On July 3, Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang signed a directive to form a steering board to develop a plan for setting up the new police force, Lao Dong quoted Colonel Toan as saying.
However, in a document released on August 12, the Politburo ruled that the tourist and forestry police forces not be formed, Toan added.
“The Politburo ordered that the Ministry of Public Security must create a mechanism to cooperate with the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to fulfill the duty of ensuring security and order for the tourism and agriculture sectors,” Toan said.
“So we should stop talking of the plan to establish the tourist police force,” he concluded.
Many regional countries have a tourist police unit on duty to ensure safety for holidaymakers there.
The Tourist Police Unit under the Royal Malaysian Police, for instance, provides tourists and visitors with information on law, customs, culture and attractions in the local community, according to the Royal Malaysian Police website.
The specialized unit, established in 1985, also helps prevent crime in areas frequented by tourists.
In South Korea, tourist police officers have been placed in major areas throughout Seoul as part of the government’s efforts to provide assistance and improve convenience for international tourists.
Comprised of 101 officers, the Tourist Police Unit is responsible for facilitating fair and friendly exchanges between tourists and merchants and directly addressing any questions or concerns, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.
The officers also provide tourist information and interpretation services in English, Japanese, and Chinese.