Lack of connectivity between aviation and tourism affects travel demand in upcoming holiday

April 28, 2023 - 15:02
The opening of China’s border to foreign tourists is part of the reason why flight schedules are quite tight between domestic and international markets.
Reduced airfares close to the holiday do not help promote tourism as locals have already decided to travel to closer destinations. Photo

HCM CITY - Poor coordination between airlines and travel agents has posed serious challenges for the domestic tourism industry, especially during the upcoming national holiday of April 30 and May 1.

Recently, sudden airfare drops for the coming holiday, even down 30 to 40 per cent compared to months ago, has seriously affected air ticket agents and travel agencies.

Earlier, airlines merely offered a small number of domestic tickets for the upcoming national holiday, resulting in an increase in price and a decrease in travel demand.

Only when requested by the Civil Aviation Administration were more air tickets then added to the system. However, locals have already switched to cheaper transport alternatives or opted for closer locations due to the high airfares.

Mỹ Chi, a resident of Bình Thạnh District, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that she initially planned to visit Đà Nẵng with her boyfriend during the holiday. Since the airfare between HCM City and Đà Nẵng alone cost about VNĐ8 million (US$343) for two people while it is typically around VNĐ900,000 to VNĐ1 million, she decided to go camping in Đồng Nai to save money.

Few flights

In mid-April, the Việt Nam Civil Aviation Administration published a list of routes with high booking rates, asking airlines to increase flights to ensure smooth service for passengers on the occasion of April 30 and May 1.

However, instead of domestic tourism, airlines have been focusing on international flights for better profits.

Specifically during this holiday, Việt Nam Airlines provided nearly 551,000 seats, equivalent to nearly 2,800 flights on domestic routes from April 26 to May 5, only a slight increase compared to the same period in 2022.

Similarly, even though Vietjet and Bamboo Airways increased the number of domestic flights by 10 to 20 per cent, the two airlines have spent more effort on the international market.

India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong (China), Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, among others, are some of the most attractive routes with increased flight frequency during the upcoming holiday.

A representative of an airline told Tuổi Trẻ that the opening of China’s border to foreign tourists was part of the reason why flight schedules were quite tight between domestic and international markets.

Flying overseas usually secures better revenue than domestic flights, according to the insider, who also admitted that the airline would eventually lose customers to other firms with more domestic flights.

Lack of coordination between airlines and travel agents

According to Nguyễn Hữu Y Yên, general director of Saigontourist Travel, there is currently no travel agency large enough to be able to fairly negotiate with airlines about air ticket prices.

It is more common for airlines to assess the market’s travel demand during the holidays of April 30 and May 1 each year and adjust airfares accordingly.

“That being said, with more market information, travel agencies can make more accurate judgments. Closer cooperation between airlines and travel agencies will bring more sustainable development to the tourism industry," Yên said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had drastically changed locals’ travelling behaviour.

According to Phạm Trung Lương, former deputy director of the Institute of Tourism Research, an increase in airfares could push tour prices up by 30 to 40 per cent, greatly affecting tourists' travel decisions.

Since Vietnamese people have the need to travel in groups of friends and family, the high airfare will certainly have tourists think of other options.

"The lack of cooperation between aviation and tourism has posed serious challenges for the tourism industry and the recovery of many other industries. Airlines and tour operators need to work closely as this will bring mutual benefits as well as sustainable development of both sides," Lương said.

Meanwhile, Trần Quốc Khánh, chairman of Kiên Giang Tourism Association, said that provincial tourism activities depended on 80 per cent of flight routes from other localities to Phú Quốc.

The previous high cost of air tickets caused much inconvenience, making Phú Quốc lose its competitive advantage.

"The airlines should have worked with the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism in the beginning to develop a clear fare strategy,” Khánh added. VNS