Hundreds of Taiwanese stranded in Vietnam due to tour firm dispute

Nearly 300 Taiwanese travelers were left on an island over the Lunar New Year.

By RFA Staff2024.02.13

Hundreds of Taiwanese tourists were left stranded on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc on the first day of the Lunar New Year after their tour organizers and the Vietnamese partner got into a dispute over payment, according to Taiwan media reports.

Some 292 tourists belonging to several groups all booked a five-day package in Phu Quoc starting Feb. 10 through a Taipei-based company, said a report by the official Central News Agency (CNA).

Upon arriving on the island, they were asked by the company’s local partner to pay an additional fee of US$720 to continue their trip. The local agency said the Taiwanese company, “We Love Tour,” had not transferred funds due prior to the trip.

CNA quoted officials from Taiwan’s Tourism Administration as saying that more than 100 of the tourists agreed to pay the extra fee to continue their holiday. The travelers, however, may be unable to return to Taiwan on Wednesday as the payment for a chartered flight between Phu Quoc and Taipei with Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways has not been settled.

Phu Quoc 2.JPG
Phu Quoc resort island is seen through the window of an airplane, May 8, 2020. (Reuters)

The news agency reported, meanwhile, that “We Love Tour” issued a statement saying the Vietnamese partner – WinnER International Travel Co. Ltd. – previously agreed that all payments would be cleared by Feb. 26 but then backtracked and demanded immediate full payment.

Negotiations are now “underway” to ensure the tourists can return home as soon as possible, CNA quoted tourism officials as saying.

Radio Free Asia could not get through to the Vietnamese company and its Facebook page has been taken down.

Vietnamese media are unusually quiet on the case. Taiwan’s China Television News reported that the Vietnamese tourism administration office in Ho Chi Minh City was aware of the situation and would get involved to make sure the tourists could complete their travel itinerary.

Travelers took to social media to express their frustration. One woman, Fiona Lin, wrote on Instagram that there are grandparents in their 80s and a one-year-old baby among the stranded tourists.

“I have no driver and no tour guide. I feel so helpless. I feel like crying just thinking about it,” she wrote.

Phu Quoc, a picturesque resort island in southern Vietnam, is the only tourist destination in the country that foreign travelers can visit visa-free for 30 days. It received more than half a million international visitors last year, according to the local government.

Since Jan. 17, 2024, a Vietnamese airline, VietJet, began flying directly between Taipei and Phu Quoc with seven flights weekly.

Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.


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