The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has launched a nationwide inspection into travel agencies offering trips to Cambodia, Thailand and China following reports of poor quality service.
Vu The Binh, head of the administration's travel department, said there had been reports that local operators organized unsafe trips to these countries and that the competition had become unhealthy.
"We will impose penalties on violators and even revoke their license if necessary," Binh said.
The inspection started in Ho Chi Minh City, where many travel companies provide tours to Cambodia. The tourism administration will continue to inspect trips to Thailand in June and then tours to China later this year.
Binh said the administration may issue new policies on operating overseas trips after the inspection comes to a close.
A tour operator, who wished to remain unnamed, told Thanh Nien that simplified regulations on opening travel agencies and also on travelling abroad have made it "easy as pie" to bring Vietnamese tourists to nearby countries like Cambodia, Thailand and China.
Tourists don't even care about whether a travel agency has a license, as long as prices are reasonable and the quality "seems" okay, the operator said.
Once tourists arrive in Cambodia, the local partners of the Vietnamese travel firms take care of everything.
There are 800 travel firms in Vietnam and 75 percent of them have been licensed to bring local tourists abroad, Binh said at a recent conference in HCMC.
However, many of them have not submitted business reports to the authorities and the tourism administration is to tighten control over this issue, Binh said.
A director of a travel company said that with so many travel companies in the market now, the authorities need to inspect all of them, instead of only focusing on large companies.