Tourism in crisis: Vietnam tour fees higher, tourists fewer
Vietnam tour in crisis, it is clear that the financial crisis is the main reason for the difficulties of the world’s tourism industry. As for Vietnam’s tourism, there is one more reason for the gloomy tourism season – high tour fees.
Tourists cancel tours
October is the high tourism season in Vietnam, but the numbers of foreign tourists booking tours to Vietnam remains modest. Travel firms all have forecast that the number of foreign travellers will decrease sharply this season.
Nguyen Van Lang from Exotissimo, specialising in inbound tourism, predicted that his company’s clients would decrease by 20-30% over the same period of last year. Tran The Dung from Fiditour said that the number of his company’s clients is forecast to decrease by 15-20%. Meanwhile, Hoang Tuan Lang, Head of the Marketing Division of Continental Hotel, quoted Japanese travel firms which specialise in bringing tourists to Vietnam as saying that the number of Japanese travellers will be 40% lower this year.
The travel firms all say that the financial crisis has led to the lower number of tourists as people now tend to take domestic tours or travel to nearby countries. However, they have also pointed out that the high tour fees offered by Vietnamese travel firms are also turning foreign travellers off.
In the last year, while tours to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have increased by 5-10% only, tours to Vietnam have increased by 15-30%.
A tour from Ho Chi Minh City to Thailand (six days and five nights) offered by Vietnamese travel firms is at $400-410/person. Meanwhile, a similar tour from Bangkok to Vietnam is $550-560/person. As for a tour from Singapore to Thailand, a round-trip ticket is just $37, while airfare to Vietnam is $300.
The return Tokyo-Bangkok-Tokyo airfare is $400-500, while Tokyo-Ho Chi Minh City-Tokyo is $900.
A 3-star hotel room rate in Thailand is $70-80/day, while the rate is $100-100/day in Vietnam.
What does Vietnam’s tourism industry expect?
Vietnam’s tourism industry may not reach the goal of receiving 4.8-5mil travellers this year as only 3.2mil travellers arrived in Vietnam in the first nine months of the year.
Lam Tran Huong, Head of the Hotel Faculty at Viet Giao Tourism Vocational School, has attributed the decreased number of tourists to bad management. He said that in 2006 and 2007, when Vietnam joined the WTO and neighbouring countries faced political crisis, it was easy for the country to attract tourists.
However, Vietnam could not take full advantage of its opportunity because it did not prepare well. Vietnam seriously lacked hotel rooms to welcome foreign tourists. Meanwhile, Vietnam did not do anything to lure foreign investors. It even raised hotel room rates to make tours to Vietnam more expensive. Many hotels reportedly raised room rates by 50% in 2007 over the previous year.
“Tour fees are decided by hotel room rates, meals and transport. Vietnam tour fees will only decrease if the prices of services decrease,” said Vo Anh Tai, Director of Saigontourist.
A lot of hotels have been trying to rescue themselves by cutting hotel room rates by 10% and providing free services. However, the decreases prove to be nothing compared to the sharp increases they made last year.
(Source:Saigon tiep thi, URL:http://english.vietnamnet.vn/reports/2008/10/811227/)