Soaring air ticket prices hinder Vietnam tourism recovery

By Tu Nguyen   October 9, 2023 | 04:07 pm PT
Soaring air ticket prices hinder Vietnam tourism recovery
A security officer keeps passengers in line at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, January 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Round-trip tickets to domestic destinations over the Tet holiday are nearly equal to outbound tour packages, posing challenges for Vietnam's domestic tourism recovery as many opt for overseas travel.

According to surveys by VnExpress, a four-night tour package from Hanoi to Thailand on February 14, the fifth day of the Lunar New Year, costs around VND10-11 million (US$410-451) while return air tickets for Hanoi-Phu Quoc at the same time were VND10.6 million.

One travel company offers a four-day tour package departing from Ho Chi Minh City to Taiwan on the first days of the same holiday, Vietnam's largest, for VND12 million per person.

Air tickets on the HCMC-Hanoi route during the same period cost up to VND8 million for economy class and VND16 million for the business class.

Ticket prices for flights from Ho Chi Minh City during Tet have increased by about 170-300% compared to normal days, and they've soared by 150-265% from Hanoi, according to statistics from tour operator Best Price.

Currently, air tickets for the HCMC-Thanh Hoa route in November cost about VND1.4 million per person, but the price for February 8, one day before Lunar New Year's Eve, has increased to VND3.4 million.

Tickets for the route from HCMC to Vinh on weekdays costs about 1.2 million on average, but they increase to VND3.5 million in the days leading up to Tet.

From Hanoi, air tickets to Da Nang on weekdays cost about VND727,000 but increase to VND1.6 million during Tet. Similarly, tickets from Hanoi to Phu Quoc Island on weekdays are only VND914,000, but passengers have to pay VND2.8 million during Tet.

Nguyen Huu Cuong, general director of Trang An Travel company, said "cheap tickets are very rare" especially for flights departing from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City during Tet.

He said domestic round-trip ticket prices on some routes during the holiday are equal to or even higher than the package tour prices to Singapore, Thailand, and Cambodia.

"High airfare prices are one of the reasons why tourists have switched to traveling abroad during the Tet holiday instead of going on domestic trips," Cuong said.

"This would leave negative impact on domestic tourism recovery and competent authorities should sit together to solve the problem."

In March 2022 as Vietnam reopened tourism, domestic airfare prices increased rapidly. However, tourists did not have many options when international destinations had not yet reopened their borders at that time, and travel demand after two years of staying at home increased.

This year, many international routes have been resumed and China, the world's largest outbound market, also restarted air services with Vietnam.

Therefore, the soaring domestic ticket prices that resulted in tour package price hikes would make it difficult for the recovery of domestic tourism market, Cuong said.

Tet, with the upcoming season peaking on February 10, 2024, often sees millions of migrant workers from major cities and industrial hubs return to their homes for family reunions, as well as holiday-goers flocking to tourist hotspots.

Vietnam served 93 million domestic tourists as of late September and the country is striving to achieve the figure of 102 million by the end of this year.

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