More Vietnamese people are able to afford a holiday. But that is not always a good thing, at least according to industry insiders.
The number of Vietnamese tourists grew sharply by 48 percent to 57 million last year, including more than 6 million people who traveled abroad. This fast-growing market has brought both big gains and big problems.
At a meeting held by the Vietnam Tourism Association in Hanoi on Thursday, industry insiders did not mince words, describing the behavior of many tourists as "shameful" and "awful."
One of the most vocal critics, Nguyen Van My, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Lua Viet Tours, even came with a long list of Vietnamese tourists' bad habits in public places, particularly when they are abroad.
"They dress inappropriately, they talk and curse loudly, they spit and litter, and they steal and overstay," My said.
"Our reputation has been tainted," he said.
Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of Transviet Travel, said he felt "ashamed" on many occasions when leading overseas trips as a guide.
Have you encountered any "bad Vietnamese tourist" in your country? Do you think a travel ban is necessary for tourists who misbehave? Share your thought with us.
"Let's not follow the steps of Chinese tourists who have money to spend but are not respected," Dat said.
He pointed out how infamous Chinese tourists have become, following a recent viral clip that showed a group of them using plates to scoop up food at a buffet in Bangkok.
The tourism association will soon publish an official pamphlet with 30 dos and don'ts that Vietnamese tourists can find useful when traveling to a foreign country. Most are just simple rules about queuing, saying sorry and thank you, or tipping.
A pamphlet for civilized tourism offered by TransViet Travel Company to its customers
Dat said real-life situations have showed that tourists' bad behavior could be positively altered when tour guides took a more active role.
Trinh Le Anh, a lecturer at the tourism department of Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, agreed, saying that Vietnamese tourists behave badly because they lack guidance and information.
Ha Van Sieu, deputy chief of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, on the other hand, was among participants who believed the most important thing is education. He said such rules need to be taught at school and even young children should know them.
Others said guidance alone is not enough, arguing that punishment is needed.
When a tourist is discovered misbehaving, they should be banned from going abroad and their tour operators must be punished too, a representative of a Ho Chi Minh City-based traveled company said.