Wednesday , June 7 2023

Lack of direct routes, expensive airfares keep tourists away from Vietnam

A lack of direct flights and skyrocketing air tickets prices have prompted foreign tourists to cancel plans to visit Vietnam and switch to neighboring countries, insiders have said.

Pham Thien Trang, a branch director at luxury cruise operator Lux Group, said at a conference in Nha Trang on Tuesday that a group of 30 Italians booked her company’s service to visit Vietnam for 16 days earlier this year, but they changed their itinerary and canceled their bookings due to high airfares.

Currently, there are no direct routes between Vietnam and Italy.

Return flights from Rome to Vietnamese tourist destinations such as Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Da Nang involve one or two stops and start at around VND35 million ($1,500).

A group of British tourists also canceled their bookings and switched to Thailand with cheaper airfares, Trang added.

“Air ticket prices from the U.K. and Germany to Vietnam are double pre-pandemic levels, forcing European tourists to change their travel plans to Vietnam and move to neighboring countries instead,” Trang said.

Truong Tran Ngoc Hung, vice head of Product Marketing Department of Vietnam Airlines, said that the airline has recently increased air tickets to cover the losses incurred during the two years of the Covid crisis.

Nhu Thi Ngan, general director of Hanoi Tourism JSC, said foreign tourists had started tightening their budgets amid the global economic slowdown. Therefore, current expensive airfares were a big disadvantage for the tourism industry.

Ha Van Sieu, deputy chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said aviation “plays a vital role” in tourism recovery.

He proposed the government review aviation agreements signed with countries and territories to create more favorable conditions for airlines to launch new routes to Vietnam, opening up more opportunities to attract foreign tourists.

Currently, there are 69 carriers operating flights to and from Vietnam.

Despite being one of the first Southeast Asian countries to fully reopen to international tourism post-pandemic, Vietnam received only 3.6 million foreign tourists last year, around 20% of the pre-pandemic figure.

Vietnam aims to receive 8 million foreign visitors this year.

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