The travel agency that organised the fatal tour that left 12 people dead in Ha Long Bay last month was shut down on March 6 by the Hanoi Sports, Culture and Tourism Department, according to deputy director Mai Tien Dung.

Nu Hoang Travel Company (AZ Queen) was also fined 15 million VND (719 USD) for operating international travel services without a licence. The company accepted all the fines.

According to inspectors, six of the 11 tourists who died after their boat sank in Ha Long Bay booked their tours directly with AZ Queen, while the other five made their purchases through company agents.

The department ordered the company in co-operation with relevant authorities to pay the consequences for the accident and compensate the families of the dead tourists.

It also asked for inspections to be carried out at travel agencies in the capital's Hoan Kiem District where AZ Queen is located to ensure companies are not operating without a licence.

The Vietnam Tourism Administration has also been instructed to block any application for an international tourism licence by Nguyen Van Hien, director of the company.

Operations at the Truong Hai Company which owned the boat were also suspended, while the boat's captain and chief engineer were detained for further investigation.

The department said most agencies that operated international travel services in the city were licensed following regulations that ensured visitor safety.

Those that did not have a licence, such as AZ Queen, offered low quality tours that had a negative affect on the image of the city./.