Editor’s note: In a recent op-ed sent to Tuoi Tre News, A.H., an expat, argued that the reasons why tourists do not return to Vietnam are costly visas, dual pricing, and scammers, issues that Anh Tuan Huynh believes are not necessarily exclusive to the Southeast Asian country.
Huynh, who introduced himself as having lived and worked in Canada for 36 years, offers his opinions on the issues in the following story, promising to present the reasons that he thinks are more important in another piece later. He said he had visited Vietnam twice.
The opinions expressed below are the author’s own.
Although some of the issues raised by A.H. are true, I share neither the implications nor the importance of such factors in affecting Vietnam’s tourism.
First, talking of visa procedures/processes, countries have their own ways and formalities.
If you try to visit the U.S. or Canada and many other European countries and you don’t have a visa, your entry will be disallowed. And there is no visa-on-arrival service at all.
Tourists should have better knowledge about visa rules and be prepared to have all required entry documents.
The cost of US$25 for entry visas [to Vietnam] is not too bad at all, although the service will need to be improved. Vietnam should use Japan as a model to follow.
Second, A.H. complained that people in Vietnam barely speak English. We can’t expect every official to be able to communicate perfectly in English.
While their English is weak, the “rude” element raised by the author seems to be too severe.
While English-speaking people might use “thank you” and “sorry” in every sentence, this is not the case in some other languages or cultures, which does not necessarily mean [people from such cultures] are rude.
We should have some compassion and understanding of the difference in culture, language, and custom.
Next, before judging that dual pricing is not a fair policy, we need to consider the following: the average income of a worker in Vietnam is only $200 a month. So what is the right cost of entry to give them a chance to visit touristy areas?
In the case of [foreign] tourists, they must be ready to pay a certain price for admission, as tourist areas do need regular maintenance and development.
Charging $3 would be too expensive for the locals but might be too cheap for the tourists. A dual pricing thus might be a good alternative policy, given the fact that local workers also pay regular taxes while tourists would pay only once on their trips.
The government should do a study to find the best way to not only serve tourists but also give locals a chance to enjoy the attractions. The bottom line is nothing is free.
In Canada, we are charged for anything, from using public parks to getting a passport. For expats like us, the amount of charges is not an issue at all, as we expect to enjoy the quality of the sights, the people, and the environment. We understand that nothing good comes free.
In the regard of flight or other types of transportation availability, A.H. says it’s “quite hard to book a flight a few days in advance”.
Just like in any other countries, one must plan [their trips] ahead and book [tickets] well in advance. One can’t really expect the airlines to have planes available to anyone’s beck and call. They do business and their schedules are well planned in advance.
Finally, let’s talk about scams, which are everywhere, not only in Vietnam.
If one has a chance to visit China or Cambodia, they would see even worse situations.
Tourists in Vietnam are highly advised to take taxis belonging to Vinasun or Mai Linh, whereas motorcycle taxis [xe om] aren’t recommended.
Taxi costs in Vietnam are so cheap, ranging mostly from $1 to $5 per trip. Where else could you find a cheaper rate? And why [would you] save a dollar or two in exchange for your safety and peace of mind?
In a nutshell, it is a surprise to me seeing that A.H. has lived in Vietnam for more than six years, given all of his complaints, which I find severe and undeserved, telling from the experience of my two trips to the country.
We enjoy the people we met – every one of them.
We love to pay extras for the attractions to be better maintained so we could come back and enjoy.