Saigon rejects plan to tax tourists for overnight stays

By Tuyet Nguyen   October 12, 2017 | 05:14 am PT
Saigon rejects plan to tax tourists for overnight stays
Tourists are seen walking on Bui Vien Street in Saigon's popular backpacker precinct. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The city's tourism department has been criticized for making proposals on such a 'sensitive' topic.

Top authorities in Saigon have turned down a proposal by the city's tourism department to charge visitors an extra fee for overnight stays.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, the city's vice chairman, asserted that the city has no intention of considering such fees. The tourism department's director has also been criticized for "making proposals on sensitive topics that affect the tourism environment," according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The department filed the proposal last month, suggesting the city impose a tax of VND23,000 ($1) per night on all visitors using accommodation in the city. This money would then go to the city's proposed tourism development fund, to be spent on promotional campaigns and staff training.

Tourism officials said the request follows the revised Tourism Law which will take force next January and includes a new national tourism development fund that will draw cash from the state budget, visa fees and entrance tickets.

Following the tourism department's proposal, the city's finance department was tasked with researching it. Vo Van Hoan, the city's chief of staff, has however denied giving such instructions, claiming he had never heard of it.

Earlier this year, the tourism ministry proposed a similar fee to be imposed on foreign tourists staying in local hotels across the country. This proposal was rejected because many dismissed it as "discriminatory."

Saigon is among the top tourist destinations in Vietnam, being home to many historical sites and the country's most vibrant commercial center.

The southern megacity drew 5.2 million foreign visitors and 21.8 million Vietnamese last year, both up 10 percent from the year before. Its tourism sector raked in VND103 trillion ($4.5 billion) that same year, a 9 percent increase against 2015, according to the city’s figures.

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