Inbound tour operators wary about new transport fees
Inbound tour operators have cried foul about new transport fees, especially the oil surcharge imposed by air carriers, saying the introduction of new fees on short notice have thrown them into the hot water.
Passengers on domestic flights will pay fuel surcharge from this Friday following a decision by the Ministry of Finance, which tour operators say is a new blow to the travel sector as tour prices have been contracted long in advance.
Vietnam Airlines this Tuesday officially announced its fees, ranging from VND50,000 to VND180,000 a passenger on a domestic trip, while Jetstar Pacific on Wednesday also announced the same fees.
Travel firms in Ho Chi Minh City such as Fiditourist, Lanta-An Travel, Youth Travel, and VYC say they are stunned at the new surcharge as it will be deployed on a very short notice, leaving almost no time for travel firms to inform overseas partners.
"We don't worry about domestic passengers because the guests may have understanding about the situation, but it is very difficult to explain to foreign guests," said Nguyen Viet Hung, general director of Fiditourist.
He explained that his company had quoted tour prices to foreign partners around one year ago or some months before the travelers come in. Such a time length allowed the company to discuss tour prices with partners, he said.
However, it is very difficult for Fiditourist to persuade partners about new air fees, and overland transport fees.
"We just received Vietnam Airlines' note now, and are going inform our foreign partners of the change. In the short term, we've decided to bear the damage by accepting the old contracted prices," Hung said.
Like Hung, Le Hong Phong, director of VYC Travel, has also showed the same concern, and said he would use the same way to cope with the situation.
"Not only fuel surcharge but also many local services have also increased in prices all of a sudden. We do not know how to deal with the new situation," he said.
Tran The Dung, director of Youth Travel, said that foreign airlines always announce new changes a long time beforehand so that tour operators will have enough time to make business change.
Hoang Thi Phong Thu, director of Lanta-An Travel, said that two weeks earlier she had received notices of higher fees from transportation companies. "Now comes the new fee for domestic flights," she lamented.
"They let me know just days before the effective date while we always ink long-term contracts with them and other foreign partners. How I can explain the change to our partners," she said, adding "customers will turn their back if local partners cannot keep tour prices unchanged."
An international tour operator said that the tour prices to Vietnam in 2009 would increase by around 15 to 20% due to rising costs of high fuel surcharge, and overland transport services.
"My company has decided to cut down profit to keep the tour price unchanged. We even incur losses in some contracts," he said.
(Source: SGT, URL:http://english.vietnamnet.vn/travel/2008/08/798989/)
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