Ho Chi Minh City plans tourist police unit amid safety concern

By Tan Phu, Thanh Nien News

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Ho Chi Minh City is planning to set up a special police unit to protect tourists as part of its new crackdown on crime, particularly robberies. 
Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of HCMC People’s Committee, said at a conference on Tuesday that the unit would be managed by the Department of Tourism and trained by the city police.
Phong said the city are taking measures to tackle crimes, especially robberies, including the strict punishment of leaders of districts where robberies happen frequently.
There was a debate during the conference over who is ultimately responsible for the safety of tourists in the city. 
Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of HCMC Police Department, said the tourism sector’s main task is to ensure the safety of tourists. It should establish its own force rather than waiting for the police to do the job, Minh said. 
The police will be in charge of training this special unit to react quickly in case of incidents, he said.
Minh suggested punishments should be imposed on travel companies that fail to ensure safety for their tourists. 
Tourism officials, on the other hand, said law enforcement should do more to help tourists. 
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of HCMC Tourism Department, said that it received diplomatic notes from Australia, South Korea, Japan and Taipei informing hundreds of cases in which their citizens were robbed while traveling in the city.
Khanh said the diplomats expressed their concerns over the increasing number of robberies involving their citizens and the lack of cooperation by Vietnamese relevant agencies to tackle the problem.
He called on the city police to establish a unit to protect tourists, saying the task is "too much" for the tourism sector.

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