Authorities in the central province of Khanh Hoa, home to resort town Nha Trang, have banned renting of motorbikes to foreigners without Vietnamese driving licenses.
Truong Dang Tuyen, director of the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told Tuoi Tre (youth) newspaper Thursday that the ban follows a spate of accidents, including fatal ones, caused by foreigners.
He said most foreign tourists rent motorbikes to ride though they do not have a driving license issued or endorsed by Vietnamese agencies and lack knowledge of local traffic rules.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism recently called on tourism departments around the country to tighten control over the renting of motorbikes to foreigners.
At a recent consular meeting in Moscow on July 9, Russian representatives urged their Vietnamese counterparts not to let Russian tourists rent motorbikes and drive if they do not have driving licenses, Tuyen said.
But he admitted it would not be easy to enforce the ban in the absence of regulations to punish violators.
He said his department would persuade related agencies to issue punitive regulations, and in the meantime meet with hotels and others to propagate the ban.
Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of the Nha Trang traffic police, said foreigners who live in Vietnam for at least three months and have a valid international or national driving license can apply for a Vietnamese equivalent.
But most foreigners renting motorbikes are tourists who spend just a few weeks in Vietnam, he said.
Moreover, foreigners mostly have car driving licenses while Vietnamese law stipulates that even those with car driving licenses have to take a driving test to get a motorbike license, he said.
But Nguyen Van Dan, deputy director of the Khanh Hoa Department of Transport, said to take the test foreigners have to know Vietnamese, which is the biggest problem for them.
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism estimated that around 300,000 tourists, including 55,000 foreigners, visited the province last month.
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