Tourism authorities in Hanoi have asked district police and governments to punish street vendors more strictly for their increasing harassment and cheating of tourists.
In his proposal to authorities in Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh and Dong Da districts, Mai Tien Dung, vice director of the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the district governments need to tighten controls to detect wrongdoings among vendors at famous sites like the Sword Lake, Literature Temple and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, VnExpress reported Saturday.
Fines for violators also need to be increased to deter others, he said, adding that their misconduct has worsened the reputation of Hanoians, and the capital's tourism environment among foreigners.
According to the news website, the department made the move following recent media reports of an increase in the number of cases of foreign tourists being harassed and ripped off in Hanoi, where local authorities have banned street vendors on 62 streets since 2008.
For instance, a local who lives near the Sword Lake in Hoan Kiem District last week wrote a letter to VnExpress about many foreign tourists being ripped off, if not cheated, by vendors of pineapples and bananas there.
He said vendors who usually carry a pole with two baskets at the pole's ends often put the pole on tourists' shoulders and a hat on their head without asking, and invite them to pose for photographs.
After the tourists take the photos, usually thinking that the Vietnamese people are just acting friendly, the vendors take the props back, give the tourists a couple of pineapple pieces, and ask them to pay some VND200,000 (US$9.6)
The local letter writer wrote that he also saw vendors taking VND500,000 ($23.9) notes from foreign tourists who thought they were lower denominations.
He also said that he once saw vendors charge foreign tourists VND1 million ($47.9) for four pieces of pineapple.
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