Last update: 15:38 | 10/08/2017
Police in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi have fined nearly VND20m (USD880) in 30 cases of overcharging and forcing tourists to buy goods since late 2016.
Overcharging street vendors often appear at tourist sites such as the Temple of Literature
Overcharging street vendors have returned to the streets recently, using only a few bags and fruits to trick tourists.
According to a news on the Tien Phong Newspaper, a street vendor ran after two tourists and forced them to take pictures with her conical hat and basket at the corner of Hang Bac and Hang Be streets in early May. The seller then pushed a small bag of pineapples onto the tourists and snatched USD20 away. After witnessing the incident, a cafe owner nearby demanded the seller to return the money.
However, not many tourists have their money returned. In June, an elderly tourist had come to the police station after being forced to buy expensive donuts. She said the sellers shoved the doughnuts to her face and when she opened his wallet, the seller quickly took VND700,000 (USD30) and left.
Those street vendors often appear at tourist sites such as Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Literature.
Nguyen Thanh Tung, general director of local transportation company Thien Thao Nguyen, said that local authorities should set up tourist protection force to ensure tourist safety. He went on to say that countries with developed tourism industries such as Singapore and Thailand all have tourist protection forces.
"Each attraction needs two to three tourist police that have their own uniform, are fluent in foreign languages and good at communication. If overcharging problems are strictly dealt with, I think Hanoi’s reputation will improve in a short time," he said.
Vu An Dan, head of the Tourism Department under Hanoi Open University, said low awareness, lack of knowledge about business and ethical boundaries were the causes. They will need a long time to raise people's awareness, he said.
Chief Inspector of Hanoi Tourism Department Vu Cong Huy said they had issued various directives. But because of the lack of personnel and old habits of many sellers, the department has had many difficulties. The officials usually have to stake out for several days in order to have evidence for a case.
Since late 2016, the police in Hoan Kiem District have dealt with 130 cases and issued fines of VND20m (USD880) in 30 cases.
It is forecast that the number of tourists to Hanoi will increase this year. The department proposed to admit re-offenders to compulsory educational centres. The department also encouraged locals to record or take photos of the incidents as evidence and send them to police.