Vietnam Visa – While the long holiday, which ended yesterday, May 1, was expected to be a bonanza for local tour organizers, many of them in fact had to cancel their offered tours at the last minute due to the exorbitant accommodation and service costs in tourism spots around the country.
The Ho Chi Minh Tourism Association (HTA) and national carrier Vietnam Airlines (VNA) last week unveiled a promotional tourism program targeting domestic tour packages which was expected to bear sweet fruits from the first holiday it was applied to — the four-day holiday to mark the national Reunification Day and International Labor Day between April 28 and May 1.
However, though airfares were slashed by 40 percent for certain services as part of the program, local travel agencies still had to cancel their discounted travel packages as accommodation and services costs skyrocketed.
In the central city of Da Nang, tour organizers had to seek intervention from the municipal Department of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, as hotels offered exorbitant prices for rooms and other services when it was still a week ahead of the international fireworks festival set to take place there.
A three-day-two-night tour package to Da Nang to attend the fireworks festival costs VND6 million per tourist, 30 percent higher than the rate last year, and 15 percent more than a tour to Thailand, travel agencies said.
Tour organizers thus demanded the cancellation of 1,400 rooms they had booked due to the expensive fees.
“Customers for domestic tour packages dropped by 40 percent compared to the normal rate,” said HTA deputy chairwoman Nguyen Thi Khanh.
Tran Van Dong, director of Phu Quoc-based Huong Bien travel agency, said room prices of 3- or 4-star hotels and resorts account for as much as 40-50 percent of the total cost of a tour package.
“Hence, if these expenses are increased, tour organizers have nothing left to earn profits, and it’s understandable that they cancel the tours,” he explained.
“VNA and travel agencies’ bid to boost domestic tourism has become fruitless due to the unreasonably high prices,” said Tran The Dung, deputy director of The He Tre Travel Co.
“This occurs whenever holidays arrive, but relevant authorities seem unable to control it.”
Thousands of air tickets returned
Khanh, of HTA, said that on April 25 many travel agencies announced that they had returned thousands of air tickets to VNA as they failed to sell their packages.
The organizers accepted losing the deposits and paid fines to return on average of 60 – 100 tickets each, while some even gave back nearly 1,000, said Khanh.
“We had to return 600 tickets for tours to the central part of Vietnam, and 300 for package to Hanoi,” said L., director of a HCMC-based travel agency.
“The room price in Da Nang on April 30 was VND1.4 million per night, while the normal rate is only VND500,000.”
Dung, of The He Tre Co, also said he had to return 70 air tickets for a similar reason.
“We also lost the deposits at some resorts in Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Phan Thiet,” he added.