Da Nang will install surveillance cameras in 110 tour buses to add security and monitor unlicensed tour guides.
Da Nang tour buses to have CCTV cameras
The Danang Tourism Department and Transport Department signed an agreement early this week on installing cameras on tour buses to enhance security for visitors and help State management agencies better oversee travel activities. However, there are concerns the customer’s privacy can be infringed.
This will help build a “stable touristic environment,” said Dang Viet Dung, Vice Chairman of Da Nang.
According to companies that will run the CCTV-installed buses, such cameras will give a clear picture of professionalism or lack thereof displayed by drivers and their assistants. They also add security to passengers’ belongings as camera footage can be used to investigate any loss, if needed.
Da Nang has granted tourism transportation licenses to over 2,200 vehicles. However, out of 257 30-seater buses, only 27 have surveillance cameras at present, according to Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of the Da Nang Tourism Department.
On the other hand, many tourism agencies are concerned that installation and operation of such cameras would violate passengers’ privacy, boost costs and not suit vehicles that are constantly in use.
Since there is no regulation specifically dealing with the installation of such devices, it has to be a voluntary decision.
Che Viet Dong, a tour guide, supported the installation of CCTV cameras.
At a meeting of tourism companies on August 11, he noted that the cameras would prevent foreign tour guides from working illegally.
Many Vietnamese tour guides disregard their own contracts and deliberately let foreign guides lead tours instead, he said. It is illegal for foreign tour guides to work in Vietnam.
Unlicensed tour guides is a persistent problem at many travel destinations like the northern province of Quang Ninh, home to Ha Long Bay, and Khanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam, home to popular beach town Nha Trang.
Some foreign tour guides even impart false information. One Chinese private guide was found claiming that the ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional dress, was actually a qipao, a Chinese traditional garment. Vietnam was part of China, the guide told Chinese visitors at the Da Nang Museum early this year.
A similar incident also occurred in 2016 where another Chinese tour guide told visitors that China owned Vietnam 14 centuries ago and that Vietnam still had to pay tribute to it, as an independent state.
Da Nang has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors every year. According to local tourism agencies, in the first half of 2018, the city saw an impressive influx of over four million visitors, 30% up from a year ago. Of these, 1.6 million were foreigners.
The move to install cameras is expected to ensure the security and safety of visitors, protect customers’ assets and belongings and maintain a reputable image of the city.
In the initial phase, cameras will be installed in vehicles with more than 30 seats. To date, only eight transport firms and tour operators have completed the installation on 27 autos with more than 30 seats, just a trivial fraction compared to the city’s fleet of over 2,200 vehicles, of which 567 have more than 30 seats.
Some travel firms on August 22 noted that if social promotion and publicity programs work well, the installation of cameras would have significant positive results, including checking foreign tourists’ bad behavior, detecting unlicensed tour guides, preventing zero-dong tours.
Nguyen Ngoc Anh, director of the tourism firm Omega Tours, pointed out that since many tourists reportedly lose their belongings on tour buses, it is necessary to install cameras on these buses to ensure the security of the tourists and their belongings on one hand and help manage tour guides on the other.
Le Tan Thanh Tung, deputy general director of Vitours, stressed that all policies have pros and cons. The installation of cameras, despite affecting customers’ privacy rights, is essential and useful in preventing violations, especially the zero-dong tours, which refer to travel products illegal organized by foreign agents without generating any revenue for the local tourism industry.
“Installing cameras in hidden locations will not affect the tourists’ privacy,” Tung told The Saigon Times, adding that camera controllers are only required to extract images and clips from cameras when necessary.
Meanwhile, other tour operators have yet to sign the commitment to join the program for various reasons, including the negative influence on customers’ privacy, high installation costs of VND3-5 million each bus and conflicts over the extracted images.
In terms of governance, Huynh Duc Trung, head of travel bureau under Danang Department of Tourism, noted that the installation program is aimed at deterring tourists from behaving badly and spreading inaccurate information about the city and Vietnam.
Certain foreign travel agents do not support the installation as they are afraid that their illegal operations will be discovered, Trung remarked, adding that protecting tourists’ belongings and controlling travel firms and tour operators are the goals of the program.
The Department of Tourism will continue conducting its social publicity campaign to reassure the public of the benefits of installing these cameras.
The installation of cameras on all tour buses in Danang City is slated for completion by the end of September, as regulated by Dang Viet Dung, vice chairman of Danang City’s government. The regulation also encourages international tour operators to follow suit.