“We pretty much do all of it,” Imgrund said. Imgrund said she’s seen a spike in customers over the years, especially those overwhelmed with the vastness of the internet. “Back in the day, that’s how you got an airline ticket ... and you never really considered going anywhere else,” she said. “I think now we’re actually seeing more people coming back to us who used to book that don’t want to waste the time anymore or who don’t have the time to waste anymore.” Imgrund said the agency has around 10-15 customers a week on average, though some days and depending on the time of year, that number climbs. One customer, Cindy Seager of Bellevue, has been using Bellevue Travel for her vacation plans for years. “I got their name from a friend. I knew it was too big of a trip for me to handle,” Seager said. “Since then, we’ve been on a number of trips.” Seager has traveled to Jamaica and Alaska twice, Key West, Ireland and Dominican Republic, all through Bellevue Travel. “I feel comfortable traveling because of Bellevue Travel,” she said. “I can ask a question and they’re going to find me a real, honest answer.” Imgrund said there are many advantages to travel agencies.
Photo by Vu Cha The company has paid its fines and plans to shut down because of the long suspension period of nine months. The travel agency that organized a local tours in May for a group of Chiense tourists who wore T-shirst with the controversial nine-dash line has been fined and its business temporarily closed. Tourism authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Khanh Hoa handed out a nine-month suspension to the Vietnam Aladin Travel and Trading Company in the coastal resort town of Nha Trang and fined it VND42 million ($1,819) for allowing the tourists to wear offending T-shirts. They said the nine-dash line represented a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over its waters and islands in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. “Due to the long suspension period which could lead to decreasing tourist sources and other issues, the company is going to shut down,” a leader of the tour company said, adding that they have already paid the fine. The punishment was handed out two months after 14 Chinese tourists were caught up wearing T-shirts with a nine-dash line, a demarcation that claims most of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea as China's territory, while checking in at the Cam Ranh International Airport. The Chinese group was on a five-day visit to the coastal beach resort town Nha Trang which is an hour away. Following the incident, the province's tourism department said it had met with all international tour companies to disseminate information about provisions of Vietnamese law relating to its sovereignty, and asked the latter to ensure compliance. The T-shirt incident is only latest among a series of violations and egregious actions by Chinese nationals that Vietnam's tourism sector has encountered. In other instances, Chinese acted as unlicensed tour guides themselves, spreading distorted versions of Vietnamese history, and Chinese people have opened shops that only accepted Chinese currency.