Vietnamese travelers told to show a little decorum

By    April 1, 2016 | 03:24 am PT
Going out in pyjamas. Swearing. Talking loudly on mobile phones in public. Littering. Spitting. These are some examples of the bad behavior Vietnamese tourists display when they travel abroad, said some tour operators at a talk on Wednesday about how to improve the image of Vietnamese tourists and develop the norms of civilized tourist behaviors.

Tour agencies are perpetually worried about potential national embarrassment that Vietnam citizens can cause while travelling overseas.

Hanoi-based TransViet Travel, which offers both inbound and outbound services, has laid out a long list of “dos and don'ts” for Vietnam’s new generation of travelers.

This isn’t the first time the tour operator has resorted to pamphlets to educate people on how to avoid being a terrible tourist. The latest guidelines will be handed out for free at the country’s two international airports, and the company plans to enhance the communications campaign by using banners, posters and social media.

“Tourists who are well informed [about good manners] refrain from behaving in ways deemed uncivilized,” said Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of TransViet Travel.

Vietnam has more than 1,000 tour agencies, of which 70 percent provide outbound services, offering overseas tour packages to Vietnamese citizens.

The fact this issue has arisen isn’t exactly surprising since outbound Vietnamese tourism has grown rapidly in recent years. Last year, about six million Vietnamese tourists took trips overseas, accounting for nearly seven percent of the country’s 90 million people, but that growth has had a backlash.


A warning sign in Vietnamese reads: "Take only what you can eat. Extra 200 baht - 500 baht will be charged for leftover food". Photo by Linkhay

Vietnamese tourists have also become notorious for their behavior in buffet restaurants. It seems their eyes may have been bigger than their stomachs when gather more food than they can eat, subsequently leaving a large portions of food to go to waste. Some restaurants in Thailand have put up signs written Vietnamese that read: “Take only what you can eat. Extra 200 baht – 500 baht will be charged for leftover food”.

The number of shoplifting cases involving Vietnamese people in Japan rose sharply from 247 in 1998 to 999 in 2012. In the first half of 2013, 40 percent of shoplifting cases in Japan involved Vietnamese people, according to the National Police Agency of Japan.

Vietnamese passport holders can only travel to 47 countries without a visa, according to the 2016 visa restriction index compiled by the Canada-based Henley & Partners. The index measures how ‘powerful’ the passport of each country is in terms of allowing its holders to enter other countries without the need to apply for a visa.

Singapore leads the ASEAN bloc as its citizens can enter 174 countries, followed by Malaysia (164), and Brunei (151). Other members fall far behind, with Thailand (71), the Philippines (61), Indonesia (58) and Cambodia (50).

The National Tourism Administration last year called on tour guides and agencies to instruct travelers while traveling internationally to follow public order, maintain a clean environment, comply with the law, follow local customs, respect the rights of others and show courtesy.

“Violations of the law in a foreign country, including shoplifting, smuggling, street fighting and illegally working, should be punished. If the violation is serious, the offender should be banned from traveling overseas either temporarily or permanently,” one tour agency suggested.

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