The Saigon Times
With the draft Tourism Law, the government wants to throw its support behind the development of enterprises by creating favourable conditions and policies for them, said minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien.
Thien, who was assigned to present the draft law to a National Assembly (NA) meeting on November 7, said 56 articles are adjusted while 21 others are new and two remain unchanged in the draft law.
Thien said the draft law has regulations governing inbound and outbound service providers. Businesses have to meet three conditions to operate tours instead of five conditions.
Firms must buy travel insurance for all customers instead of those undertaking outbound tours only.
To make the draft law compatible with the 2014 Investment Law and the 2014 Enterprise Law, the draft law enables foreign-invested enterprises to operate in the local tourism sector with an aim to ensure the rights of travellers, create a level playing field for companies and improve service quality.
Thien said the draft law also streamlines procedures of issuing ID cards for Vietnamese and foreign tour guides.
The ranking of lodging facilities can be made on a voluntary basis and State management agencies will be responsible for checking and monitoring service quality of lodging facilities.
Phan Thanh Binh, head of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, proposed adjustments to some regulations in the draft law. He said travel services should be divided into three segments of inbound, outbound and domestic. He added conditions for travel firms should cover qualification, expertise and the minimum number of tour guides to improve professionalism, quality and competitiveness.
The committee showed its disagreement over the issuance of ID cards for foreign tour guides, saying this may negatively affect national security as foreigners may distort Vietnam’s history and culture.
Binh said almost all nations do not allow foreigners to work as tour guides in their territories.
The committee also opposed the classification of lodging facilities on a voluntary basis, saying this may leave negative impacts on the business environment and the reputation of the sector.
In fact, while Vietnamese firms opposed the classification of lodging facilities on a voluntary basis, foreign businesses backed it, saying hotels developed or managed by multinationals must meet their own standards.
According to the draft law, firms can establish join ventures to operate outbound tours. However, many local companies said a ban on outbound tour provision by joint ventures is appropriate to Vietnam’s commitments to the World Trade Organisation.
Meanwhile, joint ventures said the ban should be lifted so that tourists can select services suitable to them. This will back growth of both domestic and foreign enterprises.
Nguyen Viet Hung, general director of Fiditour, supported a more liberal environment for foreign-invested ventures, saying businesses have to cut costs and improve service quality and manpower to stay competitive.
He told the Daily that foreign-invested companies already entered the domestic market but many local firms still maintain the pace of their growth, so there are not many concerns over lax conditions for outbound tour business.