Taiwan suspends travel agency for leaving tourists high and dry in Vietnam

By Tu Nguyen   February 16, 2024 | 05:35 pm PT
Taiwan suspends travel agency for leaving tourists high and dry in Vietnam
Stranded Taiwanese tourists arrive at Phu Quoc International Airport on Feb. 14 2024 to fly home. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Dung
Taiwan’s Tourism Administration said it has suspended travel agency We Love Tour for three months for stranding 292 Taiwanese tourists in Vietnam due to a payment dispute.

Derek Chou, its chief representative in Vietnam, told VnExpress that the Taipei-based travel agency said the tourists were stuck in Phu Quoc during the Lunar New Year holidays due to a "misunderstanding of payment terms with a Vietnamese travel company."

But Taiwanese regulations "require travel agencies to fully provide and arrange accommodation and air tickets before the tour departs," he said.

After authorities complete their investigation, "the company might have its business license revoked or be fined," he said.

The visitors had booked a four-day tour to the island through the company and flew in by charter flight on Feb. 9.

When they arrived at Phu Quoc International Airport, there were no vehicles or hotels waiting for them due to the payment dispute with local partner Winner International Travel Company.

After Phu Quoc authorities and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office stepped in, the Taiwanese company was ordered to make full payment by Feb. 26 and the Vietnamese company was told to continue hosting the tourists.

They returned home on Feb. 14 as scheduled.

Winner International Travel Company has been fined for "violating regulations when providing travel services," although the fine amount has not been announced yet by the Tourism Department of Kien Giang Province, home to Phu Quoc.

Chou said this incident resulted from " the two companies’ lack of professionalism and needs further investigation."

On Friday Taiwanese news site CNA reported that the tourism administration had repeatedly tried to contact David Lin, director of We Love Tour, but was unsuccessful.

According to Focus Taiwan, investigations found We Love Tour facing financial difficulties and having debts of over NT$10 million (US$318,730).

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