Travel firms that have tourists illegally stay overseas or escape to stay in Vietnam will bear a fine of up to VND90 million. In serious cases, their business licenses for international travel services and tour guide cards will be revoked.

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This is a regulation stipulated in Decree 45 which aims to tighten control over travel services after illegal travelers were discovered fleeing recently.

However, the new regulation has put travel firms in constant anxiety.

Travel firms that have tourists illegally stay overseas or escape to stay in Vietnam will bear a fine of up to VND90 million. In serious cases, their business licenses for international travel services and tour guide cards will be revoked.
 

According to Nguyen Tran Viet Hai from a travel firm in district 3, HCMC, travel services are diverse and during the stay overseas, travelers are not always under the control of travel firms, and there are not people who always follow travelers closely.

The 2017 Tourism Law shows that travel firms build up, sells and organizes a part or the entire tourism programs for tourists. This means that if travel firms don’t provide package services, they won’t be able to control travelers and prevent them from escaping.

An analyst commented that the new regulation puts a heavy burden on travel firms. In general, those, who want to escape always have detailed plans and it is difficult to discover their plans.

He said the tasks of tour guides are managing accommodations, entertainment activities, means of transportation, giving explanations, or leading visitors to entertainment complexes or shopping points. They could not act as policemen who take care of tens of people.

In order to implement Decree 45, travel firms will have to tighten the visa granting procedures.

Travel firms only provide proof about travelers’ use of services such as air tickets, hotels and tour programs. Meanwhile, the right to approve visa application and grant visas belong to consular offices in every country.

“In other countries, the sanctions on travelers escaping to illegally stay in other countries are heavy and they could be subject to jail sentence. Offenders are the ones who decamp. Why punish travel firms?” he said.

The question that worries the director of a Hanoi-based travel firm is that he doesn’t know where to report the travel firm discover someone escaping, and what the firm has to do to prove that escape is not the result of the firm’s intentional action.

He said that in many cases, criminals can forge documents well which can even deceive the police. Therefore, it would be understandable that travel firms, with no professional competence, cannot discover criminals. Revoking business license is a heavy sanction that may push travel firms into bankruptcy.

Earlier this year, 148 travelers were discovered decamping in Taiwan.

Linh Ha

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