Local tour operators are racing to offer lower tour prices on domestic and outbound tours, hopeful to offset a 13 percent fall in international arrivals to the country last year.
It triggers a growing number of locals looking for vacations outside the country during the country’s longest and biggest holiday.
Vietnamese travelers also favored outbound tours for the occasion as they provide more diverse activities and attractions offered for about the same prices as domestic trips, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.
Package tours to Southeast Asian shopping paradise Thailand remained the most sought-after for Vietnamese for the affordable offered prices of US$300 to $400 per tourist, followed by other Asia destinations, such as China, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy director of Hanoi-based travel firm Hanoi Red Tours, said his company’s tours to Southeast Asia had been sold out despite the selling prices had surged by 20 to 50 percent from the usual rates.
Travel giant Saigontourist also reported more than 10,000 local travelers had so far booked domestic and outbound tours scheduled for the occasion, 4,000 of whom registered to take vacations outside the country, Lao Dong reported.
Up to 97 and 95 percent of its outbound and domestic tours of the company has been fully booked, Vietnam News Agency reported.
The Ho Chi Minh City-based firm in October last year launched more than 250 new domestic and outbound package tours designed for the traditional holiday.
Nghiem Ai Phuong, head of Saigontourist’s outbound travel department in Hanoi, said most travelers booked tours for four to six days as this year’s Tet falls on weekend, allowing the vacationers to take longer break.
Package tours to long-distance destinations, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Europe also enjoyed a surge of 18 percent in the number of bookings from the previous holiday.
Higher airfares result in more expensive tours
The increasing demand for international air tickets during the holiday also has caused airliners to push up airfares by 30 to 100 percent.
A return air ticket to Thailand is currently sold for double price at $160, an increase of up to $100 per return tickets were also reported for flights to Singapore, Hong Kong and China, according to Hoan.
It forced local travel firm to offer outbound tours at higher prices as airfares usually account for 40 percent of the tour packages.
Five-day tours to Thailand scheduled for Tet are sold for about $380 per person compared to the usual rates of $270 to $290 per tourist.
A four-day tour to China’s Beijing capital city during the occasion is offered at $500 per traveler, $100 higher than the non-holiday rates.
But the price hike did not stop the locals from planning trip overseas for the upcoming break as some were even willing to pay higher prices by ten to 20 percent for the remaining tours still open for bookings, according to Lao Dong.
Domestic tours see mild improvement
Meanwhile, the number of bookings for domestic tours only saw a mild improvement, according to local tour operators.
Tran Thanh Cong, deputy director of Hanoi-based travel firm Hanoitourist did not reveal the exact number of bookings but forecast a slight increase in travelers registering to spend Tet inside the country.
The industry insiders explained service price hikes and a lack of transportation means were among the factors that caused local travelers to shy away from domestic tours for Tet.
“The number of bookings for domestic tours is not at high level as the travelers tend to book tours one to two week prior to the departing dates,” Duong Mai Lan, head of the department for research and development of the Hanoian branch of tourist firm Vietravel, said.
“Most of the groups will depart on the second day of Tet which falls on February 15 after they finish paying respect to the ancestors and visiting relatives,” she said.
This year’s holiday also saw a sharp increase in bookings from overseas Vietnamese or Viet Kieu who seek domestic sightseeing trips during their stays in the home country.
“The number of Viet Kieu booking tours at our company surged by 50 percent over last year’s holiday,” Cong said. “On the first day of Tet, we will receive ten groups of Viet Kieu at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.”.