Vietnam firm to compensate tourists it stranded Thailand

TN News

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Vietnamese tourists at a Bangkok airport on June 18, waiting to return home after spending four days fending for themselves in Thailand after the travel agency that organized their tour failed to provide services they had paid for.

A tourism company in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday promised to pay VND2.5 million (US$119) to each of the customers from southern Vietnam it left stranded in Thailand for four days.

The 701 Vietnamese employees and customers of food provider Herbalife Vietnam began a six-day tour organized by Travel Life on June 12.

But they were abandoned in Bangkok for the final four days, as Travel Life had failed to pay its Thai partner for services the tourists had paid for in advance. The tourists paid between VND7.7 and 8.1 million ($356-385) each for the tour package.

Authorities are still investigating the company, which is not licensed to offer international tours.

During the meeting with victims from the southern region, Nguyen Thi Kim Khanh, the company's director, offered VND2 million per person in compensation, but the figure drew strenuous objections, news website VnExpress reported.

The customers said the figure did not even cover their expenses in Thailand, let alone take into account the misery they were forced to endure.

One of the victims, Tuong of Ho Chi Minh City, said that after being neglected, he had to pay VND23 million on transportation, food and accommodation for the six people in his family.

Huong, a woman from Binh Duong Province, said: "We had to sleep in the parking lot; and I could not find a bottle of milk or [any other] drink for my children."

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But several customers were worried that the company could not afford to properly compensate them and that if they were too aggressive, they might end up with nothing.

They requested VND2.5 million, which the company agreed to.

Khanh and the customer representatives also signed an agreement saying that the money must be paid by July 23.

The director said she would ask customers from the north if they are willing to accept the amount.

She will meet with them next week if they demand more.

Ho Chi Minh City tourism department said Travel Life has committed several violations including running an international tour without a license, using a tour guide without a work permit and not providing travel insurance to its customers.

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