Analysts say Vietnam is not the only destination of zero-dong tours from China. Chinese travelers also flock to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and other South East Asian markets.
The travelers bring money to the local economies but also problems.
Chinese travelers under zero-dong tours don’t have to pay tour fees to travel firms. However, travel firms earn money from the tourists' purchases at exorbitant prices at certain shops where the firms take them.
In 2015, in Hong Kong, a Chinese traveler was beaten to death by four workers of a jewelry shop because he tried to stop a fight between a member of the travel group, who refused to buy anything in the shop, with the tour guide.
Regional governments have taken actions to stop ‘zero-dollar tours’, leading to a sharp decrease in the number of travelers. In Thailand, after one month, the number of Chinese travelers fell by 20-25 percent.
Reports all show a sharp increase in the number of Chinese travelers to Vietnam.
Lao Dong reported that 99,000 Chinese travelers came to Quang Ninh in 2011, while the figure had soared to 596,000 by the end of 2016, and 60 percent of the travelers came under zero-dong tours.
It is estimated that each traveler spends VND10 million for tours which last three nights and four days. As such, 300,000 Chinese travelers would spend VND3 trillion every year in Vietnam, much higher than the Ha Long Bay excursion fee Quang Ninh collects every year.
However, the local authorities cannot collect tax from the businesses. As the transactions at the shops are carried out in Chinese yuan, banks cannot earn any money from foreign exchange services.
However, analysts say Vietnam should encourage and welcome Chinese travelers who come to Vietnam in small groups by themselves, not under cheap tours.
Vietnam’s travel firms have been advised to seek travelers from different markets instead of relying on the Chinese market. This will help them minimize the negative impacts in the immediate time.
While many people have expressed concern about the thousands of Chinese tourists coming across border gates, businesses think it presents great opportunities to develop tourism.