Visa on arrival: an unpleasant welcome I returned to
Vietnam yesterday (March 19) and utilized again the visa-on-arrival (V-O-A) service. The situation at the V-O-A counter at Tan Son Nhat International Airport was quite chaotic and disorganized, as it has been from the initiation of the program. This wasn't too much of a concern a year ago as the service was not heavily utilized.
Now there are many, many visitors expecting to get their visa on arrival. Unfortunately the wait, once one gets to the front of the initial line to drop off your passport, for me yesterday, was about 30 minutes.
As typically observed in these sort of situations in Vietnam, there were some locals who seemed to have the inside line who were getting the visas for others, who, I imagine, were "taken care of" more quickly.
Even picking up your passport, with your new visa, is problematic as the woman calling out the names had apparently no idea how to pronounce the names on the passports. During the time I was there I facilitated a few folks getting their passports back because nobody could decipher what name she was attempting to say.
The insurance premiums and the compensation levels are really too low, which would put travelers at a great disadvantage in case of accident. However, travelers obviously do not want to pay higher premiums, because this would make the tours more expensive, thus making it difficult to attract travelers.
While travel firms deliberately ignore insurance policies, Vietnamese travelers seemingly do not think much of this. An executive of a travel firm said that customers only seek the information about the tour fees and about the destinations, while none of them asks about insurance policies.
The executive went on to say that Vietnamese do not have the habit of taking insurance policies of any kinds. In case of accidents or troubles, they would use their own money
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If travelers get small accidents, they would not waste time to contact hospitals and insurance companies to get necessary documents and compensation. As for outbound travelers, taking insurance policies is a must. In the minds of travelers, this is just a compulsory formality, while they dont think they need to ask for their rights to be implemented by travel firms.
However, experts believe that travelers would rethink about that, especially after the news about the group of Vietnamese tourists which got accident during their tour to Cambodia in July 2012.
Travel insurance not compulsory for travelers?
After the accidents, experts have voiced their concern about the inappropriate attention of travelers to insurance policies. They have called on travelers not only to consider the tour fees, but also to consider thoroughly the contracts provisions about the insurance rights, before making decisions.
The Tourism Law stipulates that enjoying travel insurance and other insurance policies in accordance with the current laws is one of the travelers interests. However, the Decree 92 dated June 1, 2007, does not clarify that insurance policies are compulsory for all travelers.
The current laws only stipulate that international travel firms, which do not buy insurance policies for Vietnamese outbound tourists, would be imposed the fine of 3-5 million dong
Experts believe that if the state stipulates that travel insurance is compulsory for all travelers, this would not only help ensure the interests of travelers, but also help increase insurance premiums, which could serve as a huge capital for the national economy. Northern travel firms join hands to stimulate demand, for the first time
Travel firms in the north, for the first time, have reached a cooperation agreement under which they would join hands to stimulate the demand and develop services.
The late decision to cooperate among northern travel firms has only been made after Vietjet Air committed to offer low cost air tickets to help stimulate the demand for domestic travel in the northern provinces.
16 northern travel firms join demand stimulus program
The demand stimulus program to be implemented in the north by travel firms with the cooperation with Vietjet Air proves to be similar with the program which has been running in the south since June. Under the program, Vietjet Air would offer 80 low cost air tickets a day (40 tickets for every flight). The preferential tickets would have the airfares lower by 49 percent than the quoted prices.
According to Vu The Binh, Chair of the Vietnam Travel Firms Association (Vista), 16 northern travel firms have been chosen by Vista for the program. These include the big and well known ones such as Hanoitourist, Fiditour, Saigontourist, Hanoi Redtours, Hanoi Toserco, Vinacomin, Vinamicetour, Vietrantour, Vietnamtourist-Hanoi.
When asked about the figure, Binh said that only 16 travel firms have been chosen for the immediate time in order to ensure the high quality of the program.
He went on to say that the two separate demand stimulus programs in the north and the south would be merged into a common program. The tourism product packages the southern firms have built
would be transferred to the northern firms. Similarly, northern firms would also transfer their products to the southern firms, which are also the members of Vista.
Nguyen Thanh Son, Commercial Director of Vietjet Air, has committed that the airline would create the most favorable conditions for travel firms to book tickets. Travel firms would have to inform the names of the passengers three days in before the departure days, and in some cases, two days in advance.
The open policy applied by Vietjet Air is believed to be more favorable than the one offered by the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines. Especially, the policy has been applauded by travel firms, which say travelers have the habit of booking tickets just before the departure time.
“Vietjet Air would try to settle all arising problems within its competence,” Son said.
Especially, Vietjet Air offers low cost tickets not only for the flights in non-rush hours, while having committed to offer seats on the flights with reasonable take-off and landing schedules.
In general, departure flights would take off in the morning, while return flights in the evening, which would allow travelers to enjoy their time.
Alliance to be set up to give more strength to northern travel firms
Nguyen Cong Hoan, Deputy General Director of Hanoi Redtours, head of the travel demand stimulus program implementation taskforce, said that while southern travel firms have been joining forces to develop tourism for the last 10 years, this is for the first time northern