Hotels fined for overcharging in Sa Pa resort town: report

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 Sa Pa Town in the northern highlands province of Lao Cai. File photo.

Authorities in the northern highlands resort town of Sa Pa have fined eight local hotels a total of VND125 million (US$5,800) for listing their room rates at unreasonably high prices, news website Dan Tri reported on Tuesday.
Sa Pa authorities took actions after local media reported that the hotels, mostly ranked 2-3 stars, listed rates at between VND17.3-46 million ($800-2,130) per night on booking websites like Agoda.
The rates were reportedly valid for the six-day national holiday started on Tuesday (April 28) to celebrate the Hung Kings' Temple Festival, Liberation Day, and the Labor Day.

A screen capture of Agoda booking website where two three-starred hotels in Sa Pa listed their room rates at $800-2,100 per night. Photo credit: Motthegioi
Trinh Xuan Cuong, chairman of Sa Pa District, was quoted as saying that Royal View Hotel and Sunny Mountain Hotel were fined VND50 million ($2,300) each, while the rest VND12.5 million ($580) each.
The hotels violated state regulations on prices, and at the same time affected the reputation of Sa Pa as well as its tourism, he said.
Previously, speaking to a local news website, the representative of one of the hotels, said the online listed prices were not valid in reality.
He was quoted as saying that that booking websites "automatically" adjust room rates during the peak season when rooms are sold out, in order to discourage customers from booking.
He further said that although his hotel's room rates were increased by 30-50 percent for this holiday, but they would never be as high as listed, considering that a room costs VND900-1.5 million during off-peak season.
Sa Pa, which is in Lao Cai Province, is now home to 170 hotels and motels that provide a total of nearly 6,000 beds, besides homestay service, according to the news website of Vietnam Economic Forum.
More than 1.6 million tourists visited the town last year.

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