Final draft of tourism law disallows foreign firms to arrange outbound tours
HCMC – A provision allowing foreign-invested firms to organize outbound tours for Vietnamese guests has been removed from the final draft of the law on tourism which will be passed to the National Assembly for approval.
Travel firms have shown disappointment as the previous drafts are designed to open up the outbound market segment to foreign-invested enterprises.
“Our parent company in Japan wants to organize tours for Vietnamese tourists. The fifth draft of the law released last year still permitted foreign-invested travel firms to organize programs for Vietnamese customers to travel abroad, but we feel hopeless now,” a deputy director of a tourism joint venture in HCMC told the Daily.
Some joint ventures, especially those between domestic and Asian enterprises, are still organizing outbound tours for Vietnamese tourists. To dodge the current regulations, domestic tourism firms sell tours while their partners abroad carry out tour programs.
When the earlier drafts that allowed foreign tour operators to arrange outbound tours for local guests were passed around for comment, many domestic travel firms protested, saying this would go against international practices and do great harm to domestic enterprises, especially those less competitive than big global corporations.
Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the provision in question was taken off from the final draft because it runs counter to Vietnam’s commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
According to Binh, allowing foreign travel companies to organize outbound and local tours would not put pressure on domestic tourism firms or create significant changes in the tourism market.
In 2009, when the tourism market was gloomy, the Government allowed tourism joint ventures to operate outbound tours for a certain period of time. But since the temporary rule expired, they have still organized such tours.
Data of the Vietnam Tourism Association showed that 6.5 million Vietnamese traveled abroad last year, an increase of 15% over 2015.
Vietnam is in the list of the world’s top 50 source markets for tourism as chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and among the nine markets having tourism growth of over 10%. Last year, spending in foreign countries of Vietnamese tourists shot up 28%.
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