It is worried that unlicensed foreign guides can cause long-run consequences for the tourism industry of Vietnam.
A foreign guide (helmet) with a group of visitors on Le Duan Road, HCM City.
Without the control of relevant agencies, illegal foreign guides can tell foreign visitors everything they like or even distort Vietnam’s culture, history and custom to lure visitors’ attention.
On the morning of June 19, over 40 foreign tourists surrounded a foreign man to listen to his presentation at the yard of the War Remnant Museum in HCM City. Next to this foreign guide was a Vietnamese man, who was a screen for the foreign guide just in case relevant agencies check his guide card.
In the ancient town of Hoi An, where tourism activities are closely controlled, some foreign guides who did not wear guide cards, took foreign visitors to ancient pagodas.
Vietnamese professional guides in HCM City said that there are many foreign guides working illegally in Vietnam. Most of them are Korean. In the north, there are Chinese guides.
According to a former official of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), in recent years, foreign travel firms that cooperate with Vietnamese partners to bring foreign tourists to Vietnam covered everything, except for guide task. But now they also assume this task, though foreign tour guides are banned in Vietnam.
This situation is caused by loose management of state agencies and local travel firms’ connivance, which provide “sitting guides” to stand over for foreign guides.
There are two kinds of foreign guides in Vietnam. The first is those who are hired by foreign travel firms to go with groups of foreign visitors, accompanied by local guides. The second is those who used to take foreign visitors to Vietnam. After learning enough experience in Vietnam, they organize tours for foreign visitors themselves. In the later case, Vietnam cannot collect taxes while the travel market is in chaos.
In previous years, South Korean visitors used to come to Vietnam through Vietnamese travel firms. However, they have no longer bought tours of Vietnamese companies because these companies cannot compete with Korean travel firms in terms price.
More dangerously, state agencies cannot control information that is transmitted by foreign guides, who can make foreign visitors misunderstand about Vietnam’s culture, history and custom.
Foreign guides work without salary so they can take visitors to high-price shops to earn commissions, resulted in bad fame for Vietnam’s tourism.
“My biggest concern is that we do not know what foreign guides tell tourists. I’m sure that they cannot introduce Vietnam to tourists as good as Vietnamese,” said Ms. Huynh Ngoc Van, director of the War Remnant Museum.
According to the Tourism Law, the person who is granted with the international guide must satisfy several conditions, including having Vietnamese nationality and residing in Vietnam.
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