Vietnam should lift ban on foreign tour guides: legislator

By Toan Dao   September 20, 2016 | 06:00 am GMT+7
Vietnam should lift ban on foreign tour guides: legislator
Tourists walk past Vietnam's National Assembly (Parliament) building in Hanoi, Vietnam, September 16, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Kham

A senior lawmaker calls for allowing foreigners to work as tour guides in Vietnam.

A senior legislator has called for amending the law and allowing foreigners to work as tour guides in Vietnam, ending a ban that has often been violated.

Foreign guides should not be prohibited from working “if they meet our requirements and pay taxes,” Nguyen Duc Hai, chairman of the National Assembly’s Finance and Budget Committee, said, as cited by radio network Voice of Vietnam.

Hai was speaking at a meeting on Monday where a panel of top legislators discussed possible amendments to the Law on Tourism.

Vietnam should encourage expats who have lived in the country for years and “have a deep love for Vietnam” to become tour guides, he said.

The current legislation, which only recognizes local tour guides, is too strict and does not reflect the country’s international cooperation, he added.

“We should be open. Foreign tour guides will help make local tourist sites and products more attractive,” Hai said.

The country has recently conducted multiple inspections to weed out illegal foreign tour guides and service providers. His suggestion came as the authorities ramped up efforts to enforce the ban more effectively.

In July, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism ordered local police to expel 66 Chinese nationals who had been caught working illegally in the travel industry in the central province of Khanh Hoa. Also that month, Da Nang deported four Chinese tour guides.

The demand for guides is expected to keep growing, considering the booming tourism industry.

The total number of foreign visitors to Vietnam during the January-August period surged 25.4 percent year-on-year to around 6.45 million. It is all set to meet the target of attracting 8.5 million foreign visitors this year, the government has said.

In 2015, the country received 7.94 million foreign tourists, slightly up 0.9 percent from 2014.

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