Better protection for tourists in Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY - Foreign travellers visiting urban centres and tourist destinations in Vietnam will soon get better protection from robbers and hawkers.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered the Ministry of Public Security to establish police patrol teams around the country to protect tourists.

The officers should know foreign languages and be friendly. He also instructed the ministry to guide the local authorities across the country in protecting tourists, and cracking down on thieves and robbers.

For tourist destinations that attract one million visitors a year, an assistance centre should be opened, with a hotline that tourists can call, he said.

The prime minister also ordered the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to raise fines for those found littering at tourist spots and endangering tourists.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam has risen modestly in recent years. In the first half of this year, there were 3.5 million foreign visitors, a 2.6 per cent increase year-on-year.

The Vietnam Administration of Tourism said tourists are put off by beggars, hawkers and robbers at tourist attractions, especially in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, central Thanh Hoa province's Sam Son Beach, Ha Long Bay, Vung Tau and Nha Trang.