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Sa Pa to tourists: stop buying goods from kids

By Tat Dinh   January 4, 2021 | 05:02 pm PT
Sa Pa to tourists: stop buying goods from kids
Tourists tour Sa Pa at night, November 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngan Duong.
Authorities in Sa Pa Town in the northern highlands are asking tourists not to buy goods from local children, citing child labor concerns.

Vuong Trinh Quoc, the town’s chairman, said Monday that local authorities have not been able to address a long standing issue of local children being pressed to pester tourists, begging or selling trinkets and other items.

He said the phenomenon has cast a shadow on Sa Pa’s tourism industry.

"Recently, amid the weather of three degrees Celsius, children have been pushed to go out and sell things. Adults are taking advantage of tourists’ compassion for small children, which is pitiful. We have requested parents not to let their children do it, but it has not worked so far," he said.

Trying a different tack, authorities are now using loudspeakers mounted on vehicles to ask tourists in the vicinity not to purchase things from children, he added.

The content announced on the loudspeakers was prepared by the town’s culture and communication department.

Urban order inspection team of the local ward visited several popular tourist spots in the town throughout the New Year holiday to propagate the message.

Tran Van Tho, a member of the inspection team, used the loudspeaker to inform tourists about how children on the streets were being manipulated and forced to sell things in the cold weather.

"It is an exploitative, illegal act that violates children’s rights," he said, adding that tourists should help the kids in more practical ways, not by giving them money and buying their wares.

However, Quoc said that several tourists still bought goods from the kids out of sympathy, reinforcing such behavior. Parents will keep sending their children out to the streets if they see the money coming in, he added.

"Education is a child’s right and pushing them to sell goods on the street is a violation of that right. We hope that tourists will support and cooperate with us to put an end to this practice," Quoc said.

Sa Pa, a major tourist destination in Vietnam, receives around three million visitors every year. About 65,000 people visited the town during the latest New Year holiday.

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