Expensive airfares kill domestic tourism during peak summer season

By Xanh Le, Bao Tran   April 8, 2024 | 09:56 pm PT
Expensive airfares kill domestic tourism during peak summer season
Visitors take boat tours along the Hoai River in Hoi An City, February 2024. Photo by Vy Yen
Travel firms and hotels are reporting low bookings during the upcoming holidays and summer travel season as expensive airfares deter domestic tourists.

Khanh Hoang, owner of a hotel in the beach resort city of Nha Trang, said with just three weeks left for the Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holidays not many rooms have been booked yet.

In previous years his hotel would be fully booked by this time, he said.

"Many tourists complain about expensive domestic airfares and they opt for overseas holidays."

According to surveys done by online ticket sales sites, airfares for flights from Hanoi to Quy Nhon, Da Nang, Phu Quoc, and Nha Trang during the upcoming holidays have increased by 30 - 40% from the same period last year.

The cheapest round trip between Hanoi and Phu Quoc between April 28 and May 1 costs VND5.3 million for early-morning and late-night departures, nearly double the price in mid-March.

Four-day tour packages to Thailand only cost VND5.9-7 million.

Thu Thao, owner of a hotel on Tran Phu Street in Da Nang City, is struggling just like Hoang with 50% of rooms still unbooked.

She said she spent several months training her staff and renovating her hotel with an eye on getting more guests during national holidays and the peak summer travel, and is now in a tight spot.

The occupancy rate in May was extremely low, she added.

Travel firms are also struggling.

Eagerly preparing tour programs for Reunification Day and the summer vacations, Dinh Vu, director of a tour company in Hanoi, spent hundreds of millions of dong (VND1 million = US$40) on advertising, but has sold few tours due to the expensive air tickets.

"When I tell my tour prices to customers, I don't see any response from them, which means they think it's too high and they don't bother to approach me again," he said.

Last year his company received huge numbers of bookings and his employees had to work day and night, but the number this year has nearly halved, with most choosing to visit nearby destinations accessible by car to save costs.

Dinh Viet Thang, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said lack of aircraft and reduced number of seats and a sudden increase in passenger numbers are the main reasons for the high fares.

In September 2023 jet engine manufacturer Pratt&Whitney said it had to recall all PW1100 engines on Airbus A321Neo aircraft for a thorough inspection and repairs to production faults.

Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet have a number of A321Neo aircraft, and the recall has caused a serious shortage of aircraft in Vietnam.

Aviation expert Nguyen Thien Tong said air transport services are highly seasonal, and so during peak periods such as summer holidays fares go up sharply.

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