Binh Thuan Province authorities are considering shutting down a restaurant in the resort town of Mui Ne that refused to serve Vietnamese customers earlier this year after being tipped off by Vietweek on Monday (March 4).
Le Tien Phuong, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, the local government, told the paper that he has instructed the Binh Thuan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Phan Thiet Town authorities to inspect Cat Vang (Golden Sand) Restaurant on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street.
“If the problem is serious, we will close the restaurant forever,” he said. “It is impossible to allow such a small restaurant to spoil the tourism image of Binh Thuan.”
Local authorities were tipped off by Vietweek after the paper received an email from Dinh Thi Thu Hau of Ho Chi Minh City complaining that Cat Vang Restaurant employees did not allow her to visit the restaurant’s gift shop just because she is Vietnamese.
Hau said her family had lunch at the restaurant on January 11 and they intended to visit the shop to look at pearls and crocodile leather products while they waited for their food but they were refused.
They spoke with a man who claimed to be the owner.
He said he was afraid that any Vietnamese in his shop would turn out to be either a thief or a competitor glancing at his prices.
On Monday, a Vietweek reporter tried to enter the gift shop and was refused. He then introduced himself as a reporter and asked to meet the owner, but he was again refused.
When the reporter took a picture of the restaurant from across the street, a man – who was later identified as the restaurant’s owner Nghiem Phuc – ordered his employees to attack the reporter and destroy his camera.
Luckily, the journalist managed to escape in his car and call local authorities.
When two tourism inspectors and local police arrived soon after, Phuc did not hesitate to admit that his shop does not allow Vietnamese because “the Vietnamese are bad.”
“I have surveyed and found less than one percent of our customers are Vietnamese,” he said, adding that his shop began to reject Vietnamese customers more than two years ago.
He said most of his customers are Russians and that some local shops often send their employees to his to study prices.
He said his restaurant only serves Vietnamese customers who book in advance, while foreign customers can sit down and order anytime.
Binh Thuan is a popular tourist destination famed for its sand dunes and beach resorts in Mui Ne. Russians often flock to Mui Ne and Nha Trang between November and March, the coldest time of the year in their country.
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By Que Ha, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the March 8th issue of our print edition, Vietweek)