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Foreign tourists to contribute to tourism development fund

Released at: 11:22, 20/06/2017

Foreign tourists to contribute to tourism development fund

Illustrative image (Source: vietnambiz.vn)

Measure included in amended Law on Tourism passed by National Assembly on June 19.

by Minh Tuyet

A portion of visa fees, tourist site entrance fees, and other costs incurred by foreign tourists will go towards a tourism development fund from the beginning of 2018, according to the amended Law on Tourism.

The law was passed on June 19 with 89.21 per cent of votes in favor. The fund had attracted many opinions, to ensure it would not place any burden on enterprises or tourists.

The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee said there is no legal framework for the fund and that it would be counter to international practice if foreign tourists had to pay a surcharge when using accommodation services. Tourists already pay service fees to tourism enterprises, it added, and travel agencies meet their responsibilities via paying taxes.

There were opinions expressed that the NA should revise the stipulation that travel agencies send a deposit to banks in case they break contracts and customers must be compensated. Such deposits have been assessed as being ineffective and lower the competitiveness of enterprises.

However, the committee said that the deposit is necessary to ensure the rights of customers should an enterprise go bankrupt.

Regarding the ongoing controversy that tourist guides must at least have graduated from a tourism university, the committee said that existing tourism training institutions can meet the criteria for international tourist guides. The stipulation is suitable with the tourism training program in Vietnam, which aims at ensuring the quality and quantity of tourist guides.

According to Mr. Vu The Binh, Vice President of the Vietnam Tourism Association, the amended Law on Tourism may not satisfy all tourism enterprises but it has many advantages in creating an open legal corridor to develop tourism into a key economic sector.

The amended law also has stricter management over tourist guides, he said. Vietnam currently has over 18,000 tourist guides but half of them have not been managed by any organization or company, which has caused some level of disorder. This has been a major problem for 15 years and the amended law stipulates that tourist guides must possess tourist guide cards and work at tourism companies.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that enterprises do not have to wait until January 1, 2018, when the amended law comes into effect, and can immediately apply elements of the law that will help them.

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