New decree cracks down on violations by travel agents

15:20 | 08/07/2019 Travel

(VEN) - Those who pester tourists or force them to buy goods will be fined anywhere from VND3 million under a new government decree designed to curb various forms of harmful behavior by Vietnamese travel agencies and tour guides.

new decree cracks down on violations by travel agents
The new decree aims to instill “order and discipline” in the tourism industry

The recently issued Decree 45/2019/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations in tourism also includes fines of VND10-15 million on those “who don’t cooperate with agencies and organizations in rescuing travelers”.

Moreover, travel agents who employ foreign guides in Vietnam, use fake tourist guide cards or provide wrong information distorting the history and the country’s sovereignty will be fined VND90 million. A similar fine will be imposed on agents letting foreign tourists stay illegally in Vietnam.

Some of the violations also carry penalties of license revocation or suspension for up to two years and seizure of their vehicles. They will also be forced to pay back the amount of money they earned from conducting illegal activities. Tourist attractions and accommodations could also face a downgrading of their rating.

A fine of VND3-6 million will be imposed on any tourism enterprise that fails to notify competent authorities upon discovery of accidents or risks for tourists or earnings of illegal profits from tourists.

Some of the articles in the new decree amend or increase existing fines on such violations. For example, the fine for running a tour operator business without a license was upped from VND40-50 million to VND90-100 million. This decree takes effect on August 1, 2019.

The new decree aims to instill “order and discipline” in the country’s burgeoning tourism industry. Tran Van Long, general director of the Viet Media Travel Joint Stock Company, said the provisions are very specific and clear. Nonetheless, Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of the TransViet Travel Company, said some regulations should be more specific, so that individuals and organizations cannot take advantage of loopholes.

Many businesses have also expressed concern about some of the decree provisions, including the fines for letting tourists overstay their visas or for delaying notice to competent authorities upon discovery of accidents or risks and failing to instruct tourists to abide by the law and regulations of tourist destinations.

Vu The Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Society of Travel Agents (VISTA), said Vietnamese travel businesses must study the decree and seriously implement the regulations in order to avoid punishments. As for unreasonable provisions, businesses should suggest modifications to the VISTA, he said.

Tourism currently contributes nearly 7.6 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), ranking fourth among

the economic sectors.

Hoa Quynh