Saigon travel companies say Google Maps abused by rivals to divert clients

By VnExpress   December 23, 2016 | 12:29 am PT
Contact numbers have been deliberately changed as an act of business sabotage, they claim.

Several travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City have claimed that their rivals manipulated contact information on Google Maps in an alleged tactic to steal clients.

Truong Duc Hai, CEO of Pearl of the Far East, said the phone numbers of his company and some others listed on Google Maps have all been changed to that of Asia Travel.

He condemned the act, saying as least 18 travel agencies were affected. Tourists now depend on Google to do research on tours and services, and incorrect listings are harmful, he told local media.

Representing the companies, Hai filed in a complaint to the city’s tourism administration on Monday, publicly accusing Asia Travel of sabotaging their business.

Le Hong Son of Asia Travel, however, denied responsibility. Another company, Lu Hanh Viet, has also been accused of using a similar trick.

Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told the media at a press conference Thursday that inspectors will look into the case and that cyber-sabotage acts are illegal and will be strictly punished.

Any company found to have changed the Google listings of other travel films will have its business license revoked, Tuan said.

International tourist arrivals in Vietnam are expected to reach a record high of 10 million in 2016, the administration said on Thursday. The government is targeting revenue of VND460 trillion ($20.3 billion) in 2017 from tourism, a 15 percent increase from this year.

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