Vietnam has announced to stop implementing a dual-pricing policy between foreign and domestic tourists. This is a major step towards more transparency for international visitors to the country.
It is an irritating fact which regularly comes in newspapers, magazines or social media. For years, countries in Southeast Asia have applied a dual pricing policy requesting from foreign travellers to pay more, often by arguing that nationals pay taxes and then should be allowed for free or at a reduced rate.
The measure is implemented in most Southeast Asian countries from opulent Singapore to impoverished Cambodia or Myanmar. In principle, to let foreign visitors pay a bit more can be understood by most travellers if done in a transparent way, although it is an extremely questionable practice at museums as art should normally be accessible to anyone.
But it is often the discrepancy in prices charged for foreigners and locals which raise questions about the way some countries tend to see tourists as only a money resource.
Thailand sets certainly one of the worst examples in the region by requesting foreign visitors to pay up to six or seven times the price that local Thais would fetch. Recently some Thai museums have however started to implement a single ticket price such as Museum Siam in Bangkok. On the opposite, Indonesia charges the same rate or almost the same price for both Indonesians and Foreigners.
Vietnam is, however, going a step further. Since 13 January, the country implements a single price at all heritage sites across the country. The rule does not forbid cultural institutions to increase their prices but they will have to apply it equally to all. UNESCO world heritage sites are generally more expansive than national attractions. Preferential prices for some categories of visitors such as children, seniors or disabled people are also remaining.
Tour companies welcome the move as it improves Vietnam’s competitiveness, removes a pain-point and simplifies pricing for tour packages.