The bogus travel firms: It’s now the high tourism season, but the head office of BSCV, a travel firm located on a small alley in Binh Thanh district in HCM City, is very quiet and deserted. There was nobody there except a young director and a female receptionist. There were also one facsimile machine, one directory book, one notebook with tour programs and one computer.
What the receptionist, who was the only officer of the office, did the whole that morning was faxing the documents about the tours and the service fee quotations to clients. Meanwhile, the director simply played online games.
The tours of the travel firms all were very simple with very few sightseeing points. Most of the destinations introduced in the tour guide book were the temples and some places which no require admission fees.
At XPC travel company in Tan Binh district, the receptionist introduced the tours which were exactly the same with the tours of the Vietnam tour guidance company, but with the tour fees lower by 5 percent.
When asked about the tours provided by the firm, an officer of VBSC travel firm in district 3 showed a list which was a copy of Vietravel’s tour. In order to persuade the clients to use the services of the firm, the officer said that the firm can provide all the tours that Vietravel provides, but at “the most competitive fees.”
Hoang Ngoc Thai, Director of the Hoang Gia International in HCM City, said such bogus travel firms have mushroomed recently. There are numerous travel firms like these in HCM City, including SN in district 10, or NVL in Go Vap and LX in Tan Binh districts.
Being the bogus companies, which have no tour guides, tour operators or any operation divisions, the travel firms still can swindle travelers. They still reportedly attract foreign travelers, especially the ones from South Korea, Japan or Russia.
According to the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 8,000 businesses have registered to provide travel services, but only 350 can meet the requirements to do that kind of business, while the others cannot meet the requirements or have not become operational yet.
The flies in the ointment
Thu Hoa, a teacher of a high school in district 8 in HCM City, said that her school was swindled by a travel firm last year. After the one day trip to Vung Tau sea city, her students complained that they were too hungry and thirsty, because each of them got only one bottle of water and frugal meals.
In order to scramble for clients, travel firms try to offer tours at surprisingly low fees. However, the cheapest is always the dearest. A lot of travelers complained that they experienced miserable trips just because they booked low cost tours.
T, an office worker, said that a travel firm offered the tour to Phan Thiet beach which lasted 2 days and 1 night at VND350,000, while another offers VND300,000 only. T decided to book the cheaper tour, at VND300,000. However, he later felt regret his decision, because the extra sum of money he had to pay for water and meals was much higher than the VND50,000 he could save by booking the cheaper tour. T had to go on an old coach which had no air conditioner, got a frugal meals priced at VND15,000 only, and some other low quality services.