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Proposed $1/Day ‘Tourism Fee’ Draws Severe Criticism

As Vietnam seeks to boost its tourism industry, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has proposed a plan that would charge tourists an additional $1 per day on top of the cost of their tourist visas.

The proposal was submitted by Nguyen Van Tuan, director of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) who said the additional revenue would be used to promote tourism in the country. After lowering its spending on promotional activities from VND50 ($2.35 million) billion to VND30 billion ($1.4 million), VNAT is looking for ways to make up the difference. Given that Vietnam welcomes more than 7 million international visitors each year who stay an average of 3 days, the additional $1 fee would generate more than $20 million in additional revenue.

But where the VNAT sees easy profit, tour operators see a massive headache. Loc, director of Lac Hong Voyages said that instead of additional fees, authorities should examine ways to ensure tourists return for a second visit:

“Instead of increasing the average number of days a tourist stays in Vietnam and working on how to attract their second visit, Vietnam is creating another barrier for international visitors by imposing the levy,” he said. 

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Loc added that only 30% of tourists who visit Vietnam return for a second time.

Another point of worry is where the money will go.

Bui Cao Son, director of Cruise Ha Long Company pointed to the fees imposed on visitors to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site:

“In 2013, around 3 million international tourists visited Ha Long and the province collected up to $84 million in revenues, not including revenue from domestic tourists. Where has the money gone as Ha Long Bay’s destinations continue to deteriorate?” said Son.

This call for transparency was echoed by Kenneth Atkinson, head of the Vietnam Business Forum’s Tourism Working Group:

“However what’s imperative in this is transparent collection and control over the funds and how they are spent to ensure they are not wasted,” he told Vietweek.

Instead of additional fees, hopefully the powers that be can see the inherent value of Vietnam’s unique beauty and culture and leverage them with a coherent marketing plan.

[Thanh Nien // Photo via killerhurtalot on Reddit]

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