An increasing number of holidaymakers from China are flocking to Nha Trang, the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, bringing a healthy boost to local tourism.
But concerns have begin to emerge as travel firms run by Chinese nationals and disguised as Vietnamese-owned entities have started to pop up, posing threats of market manipulation, according to authorities.
Although registered under the names of Vietnamese nationals, the operations are in fact run by Chinese executives exclusively offering services to Chinese tourists.
|A Chinese tourist (R) pays in yuan at a store in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, located in south-central Vietnam.
Should these firms have problems with the law, it is the Vietnamese ‘owners’ who act as the patsy while the Chinese hiding behind the curtains get off scot free.
Souvenir shops along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Nguyen Thien Thuat and Hung Vuong Streets in the city’s downtown area are frequented by buses carrying Chinese tourists.
The keepsakes available at these stores are very expensive, leading to huge commissions to tour leaders who take the groups there.
“While the tour leaders are usually Chinese, it is the Vietnamese souvenir sellers who are blamed if the buyers later complain of expensive yet poor-quality products,” said Vo Thanh Minh, managing director of a local hotel.
“Nha Trang has become a lucrative business destination for the Chinese but we are finding that they are forcing a bad reputation on the Vietnamese.”
Bui Minh Thang, director of a Nha Trang travel firm, said the Chinese will first cooperate with local partners to establish tourism companies and familiarize themselves with the market.
“Once they are familiar with doing business here, the Chinese will open their own companies and connect with restaurants, souvenir shops and even massage parlors to solely serve Chinese tourists,” Thang said.
“The Chinese firms will soon control the entire market share and profit from the Chinese tourists if we do not take any action.”
Dao Trong Tung, head of the Nha Trang branch of the Vietnamtourism-Hanoi JSC, warned that some local tour organizers are cutting prices to attract Chinese customers.
“This will reduce the quality and reputation of Nha Trang tourism in the long term,” he said.
Tran Son Hai, deputy head of the Khanh Hoa administration, said authorities are keeping a special watch on the Chinese-related tourism services.
“The huge number of Chinese arrivals to Nha Trang is a good sign, but local travel firms and relevant regulatory agencies must strictly follow the law,” he said.
Hai said competent agencies have carried out frequent checks to detect wrongdoings from travel firms that serve Chinese holidaymakers in recent times.
“We will focus on Chinese travel firms that disguise as Vietnamese-owned, and those that may have violations in taxes, price listing and product quality,” he added.
At a recent meeting with 27 local travel firms that service Chinese tourists, the province’s tourism department requested that Vietnamese companies should try not to lose the market share to disguised Chinese firms.