A worker removes an all-Chinese signboard from a restaurant in Da Nang upon orders from local authorities. Photo: Nguyen Tu
An influx of Chinese tourists and workers has prompted the hospitality industry in many places to put up Chinese signboards often in violation of the law, and authorities are cracking down.
The central hub Da Nang has started yet another campaign to pull down signboards written in Chinese in two tourist districts.
Many delegates at a recent city Party meeting had expressed concern that restaurant and hotel signboards in Chinese have mushroomed on roads near the coast from Son Tra to Ngu Hanh Son Districts.
Tourism inspectors have found at least 13 signboards violating the law by being only in Chinese or having the Vietnamese version in smaller letters or below the Chinese one.
Signboards have to be in Vietnamese with foreign words not exceeding three-fourths the size of the Vietnamese words and placed below them.
The inspectors have removed the offending signboards and are considering penalties.
Le Tan Hung, deputy chief inspector of the tourism department, said most of the violators are renowned luxury hotels and restaurants.
Hung said one of the violators, a massage parlor called Mr. Bean on Ho Xuan Huong Street, was punished for a similar offense in December.
Danabeach restaurant and bar owned by Que Viet Company also has Chinese dominating its menu and internal signboards.
Chinese tourist arrivals in Da Nang increased 13 percent last year to 105,000, accounting for 14 percent of all foreign tourists, the biggest group.
Around 4,000 Chinese visitors came every day during Lunar New Year in late January.
In nearby Ha Tinh Province, dozens of small eateries and restaurants have put up Chinese signboards for the benefit of thousands of workers at a US$12-billion Taiwanese steel plant nearby.
The owners of a restaurant with signboards completely in Chinese are a Vietnamese couple who so not know that language.
They said they put up the signboards since there are many Chinese workers around, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
Nguyen Loc Hang, chief culture and information official of Ky Anh District, said his office has penalized a number of establishments and is conducting regular checks.
“But it is hard to control all of them since restaurants and eateries have mushroomed around the Formosa area.”
In the northern port city of Hai Phong, Chinese dominate Van Cao Street in Hai An District and Ngu Lao Commune in Thuy Nguyen District and have opened shops and put up Chinese signs.
The signboard outside a massage parlor on Van Cao Street is dominated by Chinese and there are also Korean, Japanese, and English versions but no Vietnamese.
Around a dozen shops on the street have signs only in Chinese.
Local authorities said the number of such signs has already been reduced following checks since late 2013, and they are working to get rid of them totally.
Pham Van Luan, chief inspector of the Hai Phong tourism department, said his officials have spoken to the violators and been promised the signboards would be changed.
“We have allowed them to do business, and so they have to respect our culture and laws,” Tuoi Tre quoted him as saying.
He said the penalties range up to VND10 million for individuals and twice that for businesses and organizations.
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