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HCM City to establish tourist police agency

HCM City has asked for the government’s permission to establish the tourist police agency to effectively handle issues related to security and safety of tourists, particularly foreign tourists.

Deputy Director of the HCM City Tourism Department La Quoc Khanh said, more and more foreign tourists have come to HCM City in recent years. Along with it, security for visitors has become the most worrying issue.

Last year the HCM City Department of Tourism received diplomatic notes from the Embassy of Australia, South Korea, Japan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office reporting that their citizens had been robbed by thieves, with 83 cases related to Japanese tourists, 73 cases for Australians, 80 cases Taiwanese and 10 cases Koreans.

"In writing, they expressed concern about the rise in the number of foreigners who were robbed in the city and the lack of cooperation or insufficient cooperation of the functional forces upon receiving tourists’ information," Khanh added.

To ensure safety for visitors, he said almost seven years ago, the city set up a force to support visitors. The members of this force are young volunteers. At present, this force has nearly 250 members but the members do not have good foreign language and tourism specialist skills.

According to Khanh, neighboring countries such as Thailand and Laos have set up a tourist police force with adequate policies, remuneration, equipment and skills training so Vietnam.

Khanh said based on his 30-year experience working in the tourism, the tourism management agencies cannot manage the tourist protection force well. If they are assigned with this mission, they cannot perform it well.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of the HCM City Police Agency - Major General Phan Anh Minh - affirmed that the police force never protected customers of any sector, even high-risk industries such as aviation security. Each industry has to ensure its own security.

He said the tourism sector can establish its own security force and the police will help train the staff.

Minh said while waiting for permission to establish the tourist police agency, HCM City police will issue regulations on the responsibility of travel firms in ensuring safety of their tourists. Those that fail to fulfil their responsibility will have their rights to apply for visas for foreign tourists revoked.

In recent years, international tourists to HCM City reached more than 4 million people a year, accounting for over 50% of the total international visitors to Vietnam. The city has 949 travel companies and more than 2,000 accommodation facilities for tourists.

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