VietNamNet Bridge – Travel firms have complained that unreasonable tax policies, labor force shortage and social security problems have all put them in a stir and hindered their business.

The tourism industry brings 5.5 billion dollars a year to Vietnam, despite the global economic recession. However, travel firms believe that the figure could be even higher if the government sets up reasonable policies to encourage the development of the industry.

All travel firms’ representatives present at a tourism conference in HCM City some days ago, voiced complaints about the current unreasonable policies and aired their grievances.

Chair of the Travel Association Vu The Binh said that the State has raised the land leasing fee by 10 times which could be described as a strong blow dealt on ravel firms. Meanwhile, travel firms always have to pay higher for water and electricity bills than the enterprises in other business fields. Especially, a lot of relevant policies are unreasonable, thus putting big difficulties for the tourism development.

Le Thi Nhu Ha from Hoa Binh travel firm agreed, saying that the rents imposed on travel firms are the market prices, while the prices are now “virtual”, since speculators have pushed the prices up to the sky high levels to make profits.

Travel firms have to pay the same leasing land fees on the total areas, including park, public areas, which is really unfair to them, thus weakening enterprises’ competitiveness.

A senior executive of Alex travel firm complained that it has become more difficult to persuade clients to book tours to Vietnam after some public security problems were reported by local newspapers. He said some seven or eight clients of the firm reported that they had their handbags snatched.

Director of Lua Viet travel firm Nguyen Van My’s biggest concern is the lack of the qualified labor force. My said while the number of foreign tourists to Vietnam is on the rise, Vietnam only has several hundreds of international tour guides.

Especially, Vietnam is now seriously lacking the tour guides who can speak Russian, Japanese, Korean or Spanish. Under the new regulations, tour guides must have university degree to be eligible for obtaining practice cards.

My said that the regulation has not only put big difficulties for travel firms’ operation, but also pushed the service costs up due to the lack of tour guides.

Nguyen Thi Nga, President of the Dong Thap travel firm, suggested that the State should re-program some key tourism routes to retain travelers. Some tourism sites in the western region have downgraded which can no more attractive travelers. They now just serve as the places for tourists to stay during their itineraries.

Travel firms affirmed that they were not at fault for the movement of Vietnamese people booking outbound tours instead of domestic tours. The input service fees have been changing regularly, thus forcing travel firms to adjust the tour fees. The instability has prompted people to choose outbound tours to enjoy low tour fees and promotion programs launched by the foreign partners to stimulate the demand in the economic crisis.

Regarding the measures to reduce the input costs, Le Thi Nhu Ha from Hoa Binh travel firm said the current policies do not encourage travel firms to develop their coach fleets.

She said no travel firm would dare to spend money to buy vehicles if the vehicles can operate for 10 years only.