Date: 13 August 2021
Writer: Thu Tran
Nowadays, travel companies have been promoting the “pre-purchased and later-used” tour product with many benefits. If buying this tour, tourists can decide to use their own tour in the future without a preset schedule as a regular tour. However, this type of tour still has risks of dispute when tourists must make pre-payment without knowing how travel companies or their partners are at the time of touring. So, how will the Vietnamese laws protect tourists?
Through this article, BLawyers Vietnam would like to provide some notes for reference of tourists.
1. Basic rights and interests of tourists when participating in a travel tour under a contract
- Firstly, tourists can use the tour pursuant to the agreements in the travel contract. It is considered the most basic right of tourists. The travel company must not change any terms during the contract implementation without the tourist’s consent. The travel company shall take responsibility under the law if violating.
- Secondly, tourists have the right to obtain sufficient information about the travel company, programs, services, and tourism destination. These are the important information that the travel company must provide to tourists. If failing to provide sufficient information leading to the dispute arises from the contract, the travel company shall take responsibility as prescribed.
- Thirdly, tourists are assured of the safety of life, health, and property when using tourism services. Accordingly, the travel company must warn of the danger, notify, guide tourists promptly in emergency and apply other necessary measures. Besides, organizations and individuals managing tourism areas and destinations must take measures to prevent, avoid risks and organize a department to protect and rescue tourists. The tourists can require the travel company to provide information on security, social order, and safety at tourism areas and destinations.
- Fourthly, Law on Tourism 2017 prohibits the tourist accommodation establishment do “self-proclaimed stars”, which means an improper advertisement of the type and class of the tourist accommodation establishments. This is to protect tourists from the misinformation of the tourist accommodation establishments’ qualities.
- Fifthly, the tourists participating in the tour must be insured by the travel company, unless the tourist already has insurance for the entire tour. Moreover, the tourist transport company is also responsible for buying insurance for the tourist accompany transport vehicles.
2. Tourist’s right in case the travel company does not provide the services according to the contract
In case the travel company does not undertake to properly implement the tourism service contract, tourists can take the following rights to protect themselves:
- Firstly, the right to propose to organizations and individuals managing the tourist area, tourism destinations, tourism service establishments, and competent state authorities on problems in relation to tourism activities. Tourists can even bring complaints, denunciations to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, or lawsuits to the competent Courts if the travel company infringes on the tourist’s legitimate rights and interests.
- Secondly, the right to request to continue to perform the tour and compensate for damages. The pre-purchased and later-used tour has potential risks that the travel company received money but does not provide the tour at the required time. This is a violation of agreements between the parties. In this case, the tourist can request the travel company to continue to perform the tour and claim compensation (if any). In addition, the service is not provided on time being a basis for the tourist to request for reducing the service charge, the travel company must refund the requested amount.
- Thirdly, the right to request the cancellation of the tour and the termination of the tour service contract. Pursuant to civil laws, the tourist has the right to unilaterally terminate the contract if the continued implementation of the contract will cause serious damage to her/ him. For tours that have not yet been completed, the travel company is forced to return the entire money paid by the tourist. And if the tour is ongoing but not completed, the company must return an amount corresponding to the value of the unprovided service for the tourist.
3. Tourist’s right to get an explanation on the travel service contract
Another right of tourists protected by law on explaining the travel service contract in accordance with Law on Consumers’ Right Protection:
“Article 15. Explanation of contracts concluded with consumers
In case of a different understanding of the contract contents, the competent organizations and individuals for settlement of disputes shall explain in a way that is good to consumers.”
Because the travel company drafts the tourism service contract, they shall have an advantage over the tourists. Therefore, there are some confused contents in the contract without definition under the laws and each party has a different understanding, the competent authorities settling disputes must explain in favor of tourists.
4. Tourist’s right to negotiate, amend and terminate the contracts when circumstances change fundamentally
Because the nature of the pre-purchased and later-used tour is to provide a service in the future, there will be unforeseen objective changes, especially during the Covid-19 epidemic period. If these changes make the parties cannot continue to implement the contract, it should be resolve as the following:
- Firstly, the travel company shall take all necessary measures to prevent the risks of damage to tourists. If there are grounds to believe that the legitimate rights and interests of tourists are affected by such fundamental changes, the tourists have the right to request the company to renegotiate the contract.
- Secondly, if both parties do not agree with each other, the tourist has the right to bring a lawsuit for terminating or modifying the contract request.
In conclusion, Vietnamese law has regulations on protecting the rights and interests of tourists. So, tourists should take note to protect themselves.
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