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Vietnam tour prices uncompetitive

Local travel agencies have shared a common view that the tours arranged for foreign tourists to explore Vietnam are less competitive in terms of prices and comfort than other regional countries.

The agencies said they revise up prices of their package tours year after year, particularly those for travelers from Europe, due to increases in salaries for employees and costs for power, water, and food items.

Bui Viet Thuy Tien, managing director of Asian Trails Co. Ltd., told the Daily that the prices of package tours for inbound guests increased 3-8% annually as hotel room tariffs, catering service fees and airfares, which account for the majority of tour prices, had kept rising in the past years.

Tien said meals for tourists cost US$10-15 per person more than a year ago but now over US$20, and that air ticket prices are also up.

Foreign travelers pay more to fly to Vietnam than to Thailand, Singapore and other regional destinations because there are more international flight connections to these countries.

Vietnam Airlines is now the sole operator of non-stop flights to Frankfurt, Paris, Moscow, and London. Meanwhile, many airlines offer non-stop services between Europe and Singapore and Thailand, thus helping tourists save much time and money.

“Tours to Vietnam cannot compete with those to regional destinations like Bali, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia in terms of prices,” Tien said.

Domestic enterprises have hiked their service prices as prices here in Vietnam keep going up in Vietnam and prices of certain products and services are prohibitively high.

Many hotels and restaurants offer high prices at the beginning of year but reduce prices at year’s end, leaving travel companies little time to knock off their tour prices to attract tourists.

Tien said many tourists have shunned Vietnam due to unstable service prices. Meanwhile, Thailand and Malaysia have done a good job in keeping their service prices stable, allowing travel agencies to actively design products for foreign travelers at least one year in advance.

Loose cooperation between the tourism industry and relevant sectors has made tours to Vietnam expensive.

Vo Anh Tai, general director of Saigontourist Travel Services Co., said the lack of strong connectivity between the tourism sector and relevant industries has made tours to Vietnam less competitive in terms of prices and conveniences.

Tai said it is more convenient for tourists to travel to other regional countries than to Vietnam. Service prices in those countries are more affordable.

Shopping and entertainment centers in Thailand arrange shuttle buses for tourists, making it possible for travel companies to cut transport costs and attract more customers.

Besides tour prices, Vietnam cannot compete with other regional countries in terms of services and entertainment activities. Therefore, Tai said Vietnam will have to offer more value-added services if it wanted more international travelers to come.

Many tour operators stressed the importance of the tourism sector, airlines, hotels and service producers joining forces to offer better tours at more reasonable prices to woo foreign travelers.

Vietnam served 7.87 million international visitors last year, up 4% year-on-year but lower than the target of some 8.3 million set by national tourism authority VNAT.

The targets for this year are 8.3-8.5 million international visitors and 41 million domestic travelers (from 38.5 million last year). The industry aims for total revenue of VND270 trillion compared to VND230 trillion last year.

SGT

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