Authorities in Ha Giang Province, a new travel destination in the northern highlands, are asking tourists to stop giving money to its children because such an act may lead to more school dropouts.
Trieu Te Vinh, the Party secretary, said his province has been drawing more tourists lately, especially at the end of the year when the blooming season begins on its buckwheat fields.
The province, home to 1,000 hectares of buckwheat fields, just wrapped up its buckwheat festival on November 15. During the four-day event, tourists filled up all hotels, guesthouses and many residents’ houses as well.
But many tourists, out of pity for children in the impoverished province, have given them money.
“The children now stand along the road waving their hands for money,” Vinh said at a tourism promotion conference in Ho Chi Minh City Monday, as cited by Saigon Times Online.
He said he has ordered travel agencies to ask tourists to only donate winter clothes. The temperature in the province sometimes drops to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter.
The province recently has put up notices at public places asking tourists not to give money to children, as they could drop out of the school to beg for money.
It has also established a code of conduct for tourists, which asks them to “avoid giving money or candy to children as it encourages begging.”
Tourists are recommended to leave gifts to a village elder who will distribute them to the children later.
Do Hoang Viet, a tourist, said on a travel forum that some local children of just around four years old once stood in front of his car and started begging.
The province, which attracted around 650,000 tourists last year, also asks tourists to stop taking pictures of local babies.
The northernmost province has been combating human trafficking.
One of the poorest provinces in Vietnam, Ha Giang last year reported a GDP per capita of VND16.2 million ($720). It said 23 percent of its households were poor, whose income is VND4.8 million or less per person a year.