Vietnam says to punish travel firms over tourists' disappearance in South Korea
Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is considering punishments for travel companies which let 56 tourists disappear during a tour on a resort island of South Korea early this week, the agency's chief told local media on Saturday.
"It was a pitiful incident which has tainted the public image of Vietnam and its tourism," chief Nguyen Van Tuan said in an interview with news website Zing.
"Such incident must not be allowed to repeat," Tuan said, promising that any company which lets similar incidents happen in the future will be punished more severely.
Zing quoted an unnamed source as saying that the missing tourists, of whom 19 have been found, were the clients of three travel companies in Hanoi.
They came to Jeju, about 120 kilometers from South Korea's coast, on a flight on Tuesday with another 99 Vietnamese of the same travel group, and disappeared the next day, according to Korean media's reports. Vietnamese nationals have been allowed to enter Jeju and stay there for 30 days without visa since 2011.
On Thursday, Korean authorities discovered 10 people who claimed they left to find another accommodation with better location, according to initial information from Vietnamese embassy in South Korea. They are supposed to fly back to Vietnam on Saturday.
Another nine were found on Saturday, of whom three were caught working at a workshop and the rest at a rented house, news website Jejusori.net reported on January 16.
Around 170,000 Vietnamese tourists visited the country in 2015, a 20 percent increase compared to 2014, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.