While being uncooperative, Vietnamese travel firms lose travelers

Published:  11:04 Wednesday - March 20, 2013

While being uncooperative, Vietnamese travel firms lose travelers

Vietnam has been slashing tour fees in an effort to attract more tourists in the context of the global economic crisis. However, the unprofessional way they follow and the lack of cooperation among the involved parties have made the efforts in vain.

Every man for himself

The first large-scaled tour fee reduction campaign in the last 10 years was the one where airlines joined forces with local high-end hotels, to run after Vietnam successfully controlled SARS epidemics some years ago.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Vietnam Tourism Association did not join the campaign. A lot of travel firms also stood outside because they anticipated the low efficiency of the campaign which only took place in the low tourist season in 2003 in the context of the raging epidemics in many countries.

In January 2009, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched a big demand- stimulus campaign “Impressive Vietnam,” offering the tour fee reductions of 30-50 percent.

At first, many 4-5 star hotels refused to join the program because it the program was launched late. Meanwhile, VNAT could not give a forecast about the possible decrease in the number of international tourists and show the benefits hotels could get if joining the program. Travel firms also complained that it was very difficult to book low airfares as promised.

The 2010 national tourism promotion program, which focused on some shopping programs, was launched even later.

After the two ineffective national programs in 2009 and 2010, travel firms say they don’t put high hopes on a similar program in 2013.

Pham Manh Ha, Director of a travel firm, said he always hears the complaints from foreign partners that the fees of the tours to Vietnam are higher than to neighboring countries. The 4-5 star hotel room rates in Vietnam, for example, are 20-30 percent higher than in Bangkok.

While Vietnamese traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand’s capital city and Malaysia, only have to pay $6.5-9 for a good meal; foreign travelers to Hanoi would have to pay $10-11 for a high quality meal. The transportation fee and excursion tickets have become high after a series of the local authorities’ decisions on fee increases.

Slashing tour fees is the only way to attract travelers

Dang Bao Hieu, Director of Trong Diem Trade and Tourism Company, said in the eyes of foreigners, Vietnam is no more a “hot” and “new” destination any more. Therefore, the only thing Vietnam needs to do to attract tourists is to offer tours with reasonable fees. In the context of the global economic crisis, travelers have to consider the tour fees and the pockets before booking tours.

Asiana Travel Director Trinh Viet Dung also thinks that the problem of Vietnam now is not the lack of money to promote tourism, but in the high tour fees set up by travel firms. Since input service providers cannot reach consensuses on the ways to slash service fees, the tour fees remain sky high, thus keeping foreign tourists away from Vietnam.

In fact, in 2004, VNAT found out the problem already, ordering involved parties to sit together to discuss the methods to reduce tour fees. However, the “tourism revolution” as called by travel firms and kicked off by VNAT at that time has fallen into oblivion, because the involved parties could not reach any agreements.


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