Vietnamese are second-class citizens in our own country

By My Toan   October 10, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnamese are second-class citizens in our own country
Vietnamese tourists in Hoi An ancient town, February 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
I saw a foreigner using a bicycle that a resort I was staying at let them borrow, so I asked for one but staff said the service excludes Vietnamese.

Vietnam recorded 76.5 million domestic tourists in the first seven months, around 11 times the number of foreign arrivals. The number last year was 101 million. That's enough to show that domestic tourists play a big role in boosting the entire industry.

And yet Google Search data of overseas travel demand among people in Southeast Asia released at the end of August showed that Vietnamese want to go abroad the most.

Vietnamese tourists leaving their home is a minus for the industry, and insiders are looking for ways to keep them to spend money in Vietnam.

There are many reasons that Vietnamese tourists are leaving their country, among which are rip-offs and disrespect, like what happened to me.

My experience happened at a high-end resort in October several years ago. My company paid for the trip for me and my wife. When I called to confirm my room, a person from the resort told me that they had received a large number of tourists and had run out of rooms that my company had booked for me. They suggested that I pay more for a better room. I wanted to take that trip, so I agreed to pay more.

When we arrived, I noticed that the resort was not so crowded as that person had claimed. It made sense because October was not a peak month. But I let it go.

Then we were taken to our room, which was very normal, not very high-end like the person had advertised to me on the phone. It was actually not worth my money. We were put on the second floor, while there was no one staying on the first or third floors. We had some security concerns about that. But again, we let it go.

Then came the bicycle thing.

I was walking past the reception desk when I heard the receptionist telling a foreign tourist that "All guests that stay here can borrow our bicycles to ride around, free of charge." I was excited and I came over with a smile, asking for a bike.

But before I could finish my sentence, the receptionist said: "Sorry, Vietnamese guests cannot borrow the bikes."

I asked why there was such a discrimination. She hesitated and changed her answer: "We've run out of bikes."

All my excitement for the trip disappeared. And I believe that such disrespect for Vietnamese tourists, those who contribute a large part to the industry, has made them turn away.

It has come to a point when Vietnamese tourists have just decided that they've had enough, and they'd better spend money for better services elsewhere.

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