Taxis blamed for tourism dip
HANOI, 2 May 2013: Vietnam is considering installing microchips in licensed taxis to ensure they only operate from designated points such as major airports.
The scheme will attempt to clear illegal taxis from airports as complaints of malpractice and cheating are damaging the country’s tourism image. Technology will be used to monitor taxi movements to ensure they are not trespassing on airports.
Once taxis can be tracked through GPS and microchip technology, authorities will be able to crackdown on those that are picking up passengers from airports. Only authorised taxis are allowed to pick up passengers at airports.
According to Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, illegal taxis are one of the main reasons for a decline in visitors during the first three months of the year. VNAT cannot verify its concerns as there is no back-up data on illegal taxis and their impact on travel arrivals, but there are enough negative comments from visitors on blogs to indicate the country has to clean up this essential service.
“The notoriety achieved by illegal taxis that rip off visitors is one of the reasons for the decrease in international arrivals, which continues in Q1 this year. Around 1.8 foreigners visited the country during the period, 6.2% less than in the same period last year,” a VNAT spokesman reported.
The administration also blames rising prices, a doubling of visa fees on 1 January and harassment and cheating by street vendors as causes for decline.
Thailand’s airports are similarly blighted by taxi service rip-offs, especially Phuket where a transfer from the airport to a beach resort is the most expensive in the country, triple or quadruple of what a taxi driver charges from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to a downtown hotel, (distance 25 km similar to distances covered from Phuket airport to resort hotels).
Taxis are part of what is called “the complete visitor economy” a slogan coined by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. However, the standards and training required to ensure the taxi segment that touches tourism delivers a quality service has been largely ignored throughout ASEAN with the exception of Singapore. The governing bodies that oversee taxi fleets and drivers are ignored by the tourism industry. In most cases they come under the Ministry of Transport rather than Ministry of Tourism and Sports with little or no co-ordination between the two ministries.
In the meantime, tourists are viewed as fair play for scams and a rip-offs and that leaves them with a lasting, negative opinion of the country.