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Vietnam plans to charge foreigners extra fee for hotel stays

The surcharge would only apply to foreigners, and would go to a tourism development fund.

Vietnam’s tourism administration plans to impose extra fees on foreign tourists who spend nights in the country’s hotels to raise tourism funds, despite concerns that the move may make Vietnam look discriminatory.

Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the National Administration of Tourism, said at a meeting on Tuesday that it plans to create a tourism development fund, with sources from the state budget, visa and sightseeing fees, private sponsorship, and the new fees for foreign tourists who stay at local hotels.

The plan is to charge foreigners who stay at 3-star hotels or more luxurious accommodation VND10,000-20,000 (44-88 cents) a night, besides the bill they already pay the hotels. The proposed fee would be applicable for two years before it is reviewed.

Several travel companies said the fee will create a sense of discrimination between foreign and local visitors, but Tuan said it is “completely practical”.

His agency plans to submit the proposal to the National Assembly, Vietnam’s top legislative body, in June. If approved it will become part of Vietnam’s Tourism Law from next year.

Tuan said he expects to be able to use VND500-700 billion ($22-31 million) from the fund each year for promotional campaigns to draw more tourists to Vietnam.

Vietnam’s foreign visitors hit an all-time high last month when arrivals leaped 42.2 percent from the same period last year and 20 percent from the previous month to 1.2 million.

The country raked in VND400 trillion ($17.6 billion) from tourism in 2016, with a record number of foreign visitors reaching more than 10 million.

With visa waiver policies for various big markets in Asia and Europe, as well as a new e-visa policy, the industry hopes to welcome 17-20 million foreign visitors and gain $35 billion per year by 2020, contributing 10 percent to the country’s GDP compared to the current 7.5.

It’s not clear if the new fee proposal will make it harder to achieve these goals.