What the papers say June - July 2015

No 3, Vol.7, June - July 2015

Street vendors fined for overcharging foreign tourists in HCMC
Thanh Nien News, 26 May
Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 have fined five street vendors VND150,000 (nearly $7) each for selling coconuts to foreign tourists at prices five to 20 times what locals pay.
Nguyen Vo Phuong Quynh, chairwoman of Ben Thanh Ward, said her ward is trying to impose ‘strict penalties’ to stop the problem of street vendors harassing tourists.
The problem is most common in the downtown area near the palace, war museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, and Ben Thanh Market.
Tourists can call a hotline at 08 39826371 to meet officials from District 1 for assistance if they have trouble with street vendors or for other security concerns.

Vietnam airport shut down as heat wave cracks runway
Thanh Nien News, 29 May
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam closed Cat Bi Airport in the northern city of Hai Phong for a day on 28 May after a runway was found cracked, possibly due to the heat.
A heat wave has blanketed the region, with the city recording over 39°C (102°F) that day.
Technicians sent to inspect the crack concluded that it had been caused by the heat.
Earlier this month, a heat wave took temperatures in the central region to around 40 degrees Celsius and 39 degrees in the northern region.

VN plans to bring tourists to Spratly Islands
Thanh Nien News, 4 June
Ho Chi Minh City government on Tuesday ordered its tourism and transport departments and travel companies to conduct a feasibility study for tours to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea.
The HCMC People’s Committee asked the departments, agencies and companies to quickly finish their reports so that the first tour to Truong Sa can be launched on 22 June.
The city hall said the pilot tours will pave way for the official operation of Truong Sa as a tourist destination, as approved by the city’s Party unit.
It also tasked the Saigon Newport Corporation with seeking the approval from the Ministry of Defence to use ships for the tours.

Vietnam to expand Tan Son Nhat airport
Thanh Nien News, 4 June
The international terminal of Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City will be expanded under a $105.8 million project launched in the middle of this month.
The work will be completed around 26 months later and the expanded terminal will be able to receive 13 million passengers a year, compared to 10 million at the moment.
The project is part of a bigger plan to upgrade the capacity of the country's largest airport to 26 million passengers a year.
Tan Son Nhat received more than 22 million passengers last year.
According to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, the domestic terminal will also be expanded and there will be more parking spaces.
In the meantime, lawmakers are expected to vote later this month on the government's plan to build the $15.8 billion Long Thanh airport in neighbouring Dong Nai Province to replace Tan Son Nhat.
Vietnam opens primary school on Truong Sa (Spratly)
Tuoi Tre News, 19 May
An elementary school has been inaugurated on Song Tu Tay Island, part of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea.
The inauguration ceremony was conducted on Monday with the participation of a Ho Chi Minh City delegation that visited a number of islands belonging to Truong Sa, which is a district of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.
Also participating in the event were representatives from the High Command of Naval Zone 4, the naval force on the island, and islanders.
The school has two floors and six rooms, including a dormitory for teachers and a water tank with a capacity of 90m³.

Vietnam introduces code to combat sexual harassment at work
Tuoi Tre News, 26 May
A code of conduct for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces was announced by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids, and Social Affairs and the International Labour Organization Office in Vietnam.
The code is necessary, as the current Labour Code, which has four articles relating to sexual harassment, has failed to provide a clear definition of sexual harassment.
Written in the code, sexual harassment at workplaces includes both physical contact and verbal and non-verbal acts.

Capsule hotels offer new appeal
Tuoi Tre News, 1 June
Apart from staying in luxury resorts or conventional hotels, tourists on a limited budget to Ho Chi Minh City, particularly backpackers, can now choose to stay in capsule hotels.
A capsule hotel is a type of hotel developed in Japan that features a large number of extremely small ‘rooms’ (capsules) intended to provide affordable, basic accommodation for guests who do not require the services offered by more conventional hotels.
Despite their limited space, the imported ‘sleeping bags’ are all equipped with a television set, Wi-Fi, an air-conditioner and headphones so that guests can enjoy their TV programs or music without disturbing their neighbours.
Guests are also entitled to the use of a code-operated locker which is wide enough for a large suitcase.

Half of Vietnam’s population infected with parasitic worms
Tuoi Tre News, 2 June
Vietnam has more than 45 million people infected with intestinal worms, which deprive 1.5 million liters of blood from their hosts and cause many health problems, a health official has said.
The head of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology released the striking figures at a recent ceremony in Hanoi, launching a program to call on people to worm themselves twice per year to protect their health.
Environmental hygienic conditions in Vietnam are still poor while the country’s hot and humid tropical climate is very suitable for the survival, development and spread of intestinal worms in the environment.

HCMC to collect road fees
Tuoi Tre News, 3 June
Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City will begin to collect road maintenance fees as of July under a recent decision made by the municipal People’s Committee, thus becoming the last local government in Vietnam to apply such fees to bikers.
Under the decision, owners of motorbikes with engines of up to 100 cubic centimeters (cc) will have to pay VND50,000 ($2.30) per annum, and those who own bikes with 100-175 cc engines will be liable for a higher rate, VND100,000 ($4.60) per year.
As for bikes with engines of over 175 cc, the fee rate will be VND150,000 ($6.90) per year. No fee will be imposed on electric bicycles.
Failure to pay the fee will lead to a fine that is two or three times the payable fee amount, but the highest fine is set at VND50 million ($2,300).

Experts call to save the Dong Nai River
Viet Nam News, 14 May
Scientists and experts have renewed their calls to the National Assembly and the Government to take prompt actions to save the Dong Nai River in southern Dong Nai Province.
The 610km river is believed to be the third longest river in the country, running through 10 provinces and HCM City and supplying water to nearly 20 million people.
Experts say that a planned residential project will affect the river's flow and have a negative impact on its ecology.
The request was made at a workshop organised by the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Association, the National Institute for Legislative Studies and the Viet Nam River Network.

Ancient town to launch tourism promotions
Viet Nam News, 22 May
The ancient town of Hoi An has launched a variety of tourism promotions between May and August.
Promotions include a free ticket to the old quarter for visitors staying at a homestay or hotel in the town.
Restaurants and tailors will also offer promotions of 10 to 20 per cent discounts, while hotels and resorts offer 10 to 40 per cent discounts for tourists during the three-month promotion.
Also, a series of cultural programmes will be organised in July in celebration of summer holidays, including the Friday Street Food Festival, the Hoi An Carpentry Crafts Day, and lantern releasing in the Hoai River.

Road accident deaths down
Viet Nam News, 25 May
Vietnam recorded as many as 9,318 road traffic accidents in five months, from 16 December to 15 May, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.
The committee's secretariat said the number of accidents, deaths, and injuries have decreased compared to the same period last year.
The number of traffic accidents is down more than 1,450 cases, or 13.5 per cent, whereas the number of deaths is 193 less and injuries down 2,000 against the May, 2014 figures.
In May of this year alone, some 1,734 traffic accidents occurred, killing 708 people and injuring 1,484 others.

Government to take action on tree-cutting fiasco
Viet Nam News, 28 May
The Government Office yesterday said officials responsible for the tree-cutting fiasco in Hanoi would be formally reprimanded in June.
The Office closely monitored the situation following the Hanoi inspectors' report, which asked the city authorities to review their responsibilities and said the implementation of the project was done hastily.
The inspectors' report said the construction department did not consult scientists and local residents about the project.
At least 500 trees on nine streets were cut down before the city halted the work. Under the $3.4-million landscaping project, 6,700 trees on 190 streets were supposed to be cut down.

Vietnam to offer visa waivers
Bloomberg, 4 June
Vietnam will offer more visa exemptions and set up a $100 million tourism fund to promote the country’s attractions in a bid to reverse a drop in foreign visitors that’s hurting the economy.
‘The hassle of getting a visa is seriously hampering Vietnam in attracting tourists,’ Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the National Administration of Tourism, said in an interview in Hanoi Wednesday. ‘The application process is easier, faster and more convenient in other countries in the region.’
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed to offer ‘unilateral visa exemptions’ to countries that have sent high numbers of visitors to Vietnam in recent years, Tuan said.
Vietnam offered visa exemptions to visitors from Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, starting this year until 2019. Tourism officials have asked Premier Dung to add nine more countries: France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Tourist arrivals in the Southeast Asian nation fell for a fifth month in May, with the biggest declines from China, Cambodia and Thailand.
The planned fund will be used to train workers in the industry, hold road shows and set up tourism offices overseas, Tuan said.

Following the tunes (“Spring comes to Muong Hum hamlet high up the mountains with heart-rocking distant singing…” ) of talented composer Nguyen Tai ...
In the heart of the darkness of Saigon's backpacker land,ambling along down raucous Bui Vien Street and wishing I had not come out without my ear ...
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