by Thanh Hai
Da Nang is looking to improve its image by providing quality tourism services and preventing tourists from being overcharged.
Deputy head of the Son Tra Peninsula's Beach Management Board Phan Minh Hai said prices of tourism services like accommodation, food and beach services would be publicised as a necessary measure to protect visitors from being overcharged. Two hotlines were also set up for tourists to report any violations.
In an earlier move to stabilise prices of accommodation, food, parking and transport, the municipal Industry and Trade Department requested hotels and restaurants to sell their services at regulated prices. The city also regulated the prices of parking and tourism boat services.
They promised that the increases in hotel prices during the holiday season would be no more than 30 per cent against normal.
The vice chairman of the municipal People's Committee, Vo Duy Khuong, confirmed that violations related to overcharges would be handled according to the law, especially repeat violators might face business licence withdrawal.
"Inspection teams will be strengthened and violations punished in order to protect the city's tourism trademark," Khuong said.
The measures are among efforts for the coming tourism season, set to include many important events such as the Da Nang International Fireworks Display on April 30 and May 1 and the International Parachute Competition on May 23-27. The events are expected to attract many local and foreign visitors.
While many locals and tourists support these efforts, many are wondering if the commitments will indeed be implemented.
The initial performance of the two hot lines, which aim to receive complaints on pricing violations, does not seem to be at its best, at least when Viet Nam News tried to call both. One of the two, 0511.2218887, was out of service while nobody answered the other, 0511.3812340.
Responding to a question on how many complaints the hot-line has received, an official of the Da Nang Industry and Trade Department said that they had not received any reports yet.
"There are still a couple of weeks before the fireworks and no one might answer the hot-line at this moment. Let me check!" he explained.
In another move, the department reported that by the end of March, authorities had inspected 88 out of the city's 276 hotels and fined 28 for violations with a total of VND80 million ($3,800). Most violations related to prices of souvenirs and rooms or the selling of unregistered products.
However, many tourists have still complained that they cannot afford rooms at well-located hotels on the two banks of the Han River where the display takes place since prices of many hotels have been increased between four and five times.
At Y Van Hotel on Tran Hung Dao Street, a receptionist said that a single room actually cost VND2 million (US$95) per night, compared to the registered price of VND400,000 to 500,000 ($19-24) per night.
A single room at the three-star Varna Hotel costs up to VND3.5 million ($170) per night for the last day of April, an increase of seven times compared with normal.
"There's no way visitors could find cheap rooms during the fireworks period. They have to deposit half the room cost when booking at our well located hotel," said a hotel staff member.
Director of the Vietda Tourism Company Dinh Van Loc said that this year room prices had increased between 40-50 per cent compared to the previous year.
Le Tan Thanh Tung, from the Da Nang Vitour, said the fact that hotels had increased room prices by more than 30 per cent would cause a bad impact on the tourism environment during the festival period.
Tung added that around 5,000 people had booked his tour for the same periods last year. However, the number this year had downed by half due to difficulties related to room prices.
Many holidaymakers see Da Nang as a good choice for its beautiful beaches, famous tourism sites and many cultural and sport events. However, many of them have ended up in other places because they do not want to become victims of overcharge from tourism services during big events.
The city has gone on the right track in efforts to build a tourism trademark and a good environment. People, however, are waiting for the day the city leaders actually fulfil their commitments. — VNS