Expensive airfares continue challenging summer holiday season

Pham Van Bay, deputy director of Vietravel Hanoi branch, said summer tour products account for about 30% of the company’s total yearly revenue. Bay expected his company to provide services to more than 340,000 travelers this season.

Bay said that compared to previous years, this summer will see many product changes to “avoid high air ticket prices.”

Tour operators said it would be difficult to wait until airfares cool down, therefore, they have to come up with their own plans.

One of Vietravel’s solutions is to focus on road-connected tours thanks to the opening of new highways that connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with neighboring localities such as Quang Ninh and Hai Phong in the north, and Vung Tau and Binh Thuan in the south.

For destinations in the central region like Da Nang, the company is planning to offer combined tour packages, with one-way by train and return by plane.

Viet Tourism Media Company had success developing land and waterway tours during the Reunification Day (April 30) holiday, so it has continued to do so.

The firm’s marketing director Pham Anh Vu said high-quality train tours from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, Ninh Thuan, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Da Nang, and high-speed vessels from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao, will help tourists reduce costs by 20-40% compared to flight-connected tours.

Phuong Thao, a tourist from Hanoi, said high airfares remain her biggest obstacle to travel, especially when she’s trying to plan larger family group tours.

During the recent holiday, her family decided to drive their own car to Ha Long and stay at a 5-star hotel instead of their previous plan of flying all five people to Phu Quoc at a cost of up to VND30 million (US$1,180), excluding other expenses such as hotel and dining.

“The trip was still fun, but we really like Phu Quoc and some southern coastal destinations more than the tourist destinations we have been to many times,” Thao said, adding that she’s continuing to look for tickets to Phu Quoc for future plans.

Soaring airfares have become the challenge for Vietnam’s domestic tourism market so far this year and Vietnamese tourists have begun switching their travel plans to other Asian destinations.

Nguyen Huu Cuong, general director of Trang An Travel Company, said domestic airfare prices remain high so his company is focusing on outbound tours.

Cuong said the outbound tour market is thriving as family groups plan to travel in late May and late June to Southeast Asian and Northeast Asian destinations such as Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan, mainland China and Japan.

Tour packages to Thailand are only around VND7 million, much cheaper than airfares to Phu Quoc or Nha Trang, while tours to China by road between from VND4-10 million, Cuong added.

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