|High airfares slow Vietnamese visit numbers, Photo: Shutterstock |
Pham Ha, president of Lux Group, said airfares to Vietnam have doubled since the beginning of this year, and he had already had two large groups cancel.
A group of 30 Italians had booked a 16-day trip to Vietnam, but they changed their itinerary and cancelled their bookings at the last minute because the airfare was too high and there were no direct routes between Vietnam and Italy.
Then a group of British tourists also cancelled their bookings and switched to Thailand due to convenient flight routes and cheaper airfares.
“High airfare will give tourists less choice and affect their decision to come to Vietnam,” Ha said.
At a conference on attracting foreign tourists held in Khanh Hoa province earlier this month, Ha Van Sieu, vice chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that international tourists to Vietnam by air accounted for more than 80 per cent of incoming tourists.
However, the increase in flight prices could threaten the tourism industry’s goal of welcoming 8 million international visitors this year.
By the end of the first quarter, the number of foreign tourists entering Vietnam reached nearly 2.7 million, equalling 60 per cent of the same period in 2019. Sieu said that the increase in airfare prices also affected the speed of recovery and reduced the competitiveness of destinations in Vietnam compared to other countries in the region.
“Our data shows that the recovery rate of Vietnam’s tourism is 23 per cent, lower than the average in the Asia-Pacific region of 30.5 per cent and also lower than that of neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” he said.
Deputy head of the Air Transport Department under the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, Bui Minh Dang, said that for the international market, the ticket price depended on the needs of users.
“Currently, there are 69 carriers operating flights to and from Vietnam. Competition between international markets will determine the price of air tickets,” Dang said.
Currently, 52 regular foreign airlines and five Vietnamese airlines are operating 143 routes connecting 29 countries and territories in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Although China, one of Vietnam’s largest international tourist markets, has reopened recently, the operating frequency of Vietnamese and Chinese airlines has only reached about half compared to the pre-pandemic period.
Generally, in the first quarter of 2023, the volume of transport on international routes reached 7.1 million passengers, approximately 68 per cent over the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile, representatives of a number of airlines in Vietnam said that increasing airfares at this time was a mandatory requirement because the ticket price will reflect the type of aircraft, flight time, itinerary, and type of service, etc.
“The average ticket price Vietnam Airlines sold on the market in 2022 increased by 30-50 per cent. Airlines also had to increase air tickets to cover the losses incurred and balance costs to maintain operations during the pandemic,” said Truong Tran Ngoc Hung, vice head of Product Marketing Department at Vietnam Airlines.
To remove barriers related to air ticket prices to stimulate tourism development, Vietnamese and foreign airlines are continuing to increase frequency, and reopen or open new routes. Vietnam also encourages airlines to develop routes from secondary international airports, creating maximum conditions for transportation rights, pricing policies, and other commercial conditions for airlines operating international passenger flights to these destinations.
International operations to Vietnam are currently not only concentrated at Hanoi’s Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat of Ho Chi Minh City, but have been restored and expanded at a number of other international airports such as Danang, Cam Rang, Phu Quoc, and Dalat.
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Vietnam’s tourism industry is expected to surpass its goal of welcoming eight million foreign visitors this year, if visa policies are updated and length of stay options adjusted.
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Vietnam’s international tourism is slowly reopening and growing again, but it still has a long way to go.
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Tourism is one of the major sectors of Vietnam’s economy, contributing over 9 per cent of its GDP. However, international arrivals have declined sharply since 2020.