Visitors choose cheaper international options due to high prices of domestic tours

April 24, 2023 - 08:03
As the holiday season approaches, many Vietnamese travellers are opting for outbound tours due to the significant increase the price of domestic flights, according to travel agents and tour operators.


Vietnamese tourists opt for foreign tours due to lower costs compared to domestic tours. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI – As the holiday season approaches, many Vietnamese travellers are opting for outbound tours due to the significant increase the price of domestic flights, according to travel agents and tour operators.

The upcoming holiday season will give workers five consecutive days off to celebrate the commemoration of the Hùng Kings (April 29), National Reunification Day (April 30), and International Labour Day (May 1).

Nguyễn Thanh Tuyền, a resident of HCM City’s Bình Thạnh District, said she and her friends decided to book a tour to Thailand instead of travelling domestically as they had done in previous years.

“A tour to Thailand costs around VNĐ7 million per person. This is quite reasonable compared to domestic tours. Tourist destinations are less crowded, and we can buy goods at lower prices," she said.

Nguyễn Hữu Ý Yên, the CEO of Saigontourist, said the number of customers booking outbound tours has increased sharply, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the total number of customers during the upcoming holiday season.

The company estimates that it will serve more than 200 tours for about 100,000 individuals and group customers.

This year, many customers have chosen long tours to Japan, Taiwan (China), South Korea, and Thailand. Most long tour routes departing to Australia, Japan, Europe, Canada, the US, and Cuba are fully booked. Only short-haul tours in Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, Brunei, Singapore-Malaysia, and Thailand, still have available slots.

“Most customers prefer outbound tours due to the higher cost of domestic flights compared to the package price of an outbound tour," Yên said.

Trần Thế Dũng, CEO of Vietluxtour, said the company has stopped receiving tourists to countries where visas are required while Trần Phương Linh, Director of Marketing and Information Technology at BếnThành Tourist said all tours to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong are almost fully booked.

Nguyễn Minh Mẫn, Director of Communications and Marketing at TSTtourist, said the company has achieved its plan of 2,000 customers for the coming holidays with usual tour routes to Thailand, Japan, and Europe.

It is expected that in June, the number of customers choosing outbound tours may increase significantly as China reopens, he said.

Outbound tours on the rise

According to travel companies and tour operators, the high prices of domestic air tickets have created barriers for domestic tours, resulting in a price difference between domestic and overseas options.

For example, if a customer chooses the route from HCM City to Đà Nẵng on April 29 and returns on May 3, the lowest round-trip ticket price for Vietjet, a low-cost airline, is over VNĐ4.4 million including taxes and fees and that of Vietnam Airlines is around VNĐ8-9 million.

Currently, there are only business class seats left with prices double that of economy.

Domestic flight prices have increased by 40 per cent. Meanwhile, tours to Southeast Asia have increased by only 15 per cent, and tours to China, Japan, and Korea by no more than 20 per cent.

"A 4-day-3-night trip to Phú Quốc on April 30 costs around VNĐ10 million per person, while a tour to Thailand costs only VNĐ7 million," said Mẫn.


Tourists enjoy a bike ride during a community tourism tour in Thiềng Liềng Hamlet, Thạnh An Commune, Cần Giờ District in Cần Thơ City. VNA/VNS Photo

Nguyễn Trần Hoàng Phương, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Golden Smile Travel, said customers may spend around VNĐ10 million for a 4-5 day trip. However, paying up to VNĐ8 million for a domestic airfare is not suitable.

As a result, when airfare prices are too high, domestic tourism becomes less competitive compared to international tourism. People will prefer spending their money abroad, he added.

Hoàng Thị Mỹ Anh, Deputy General Director of Hải Đăng Travel Company, said that not only are airfare prices rising, but service and hotel prices in some domestic destinations are also increasing for the holiday.

This creates significant difficulties for tourism companies in developing domestic tours, especially during holidays when there are more customers, and destinations tend to increase prices, making it challenging for companies to keep up.

Sharp drop in domestic tours

According to travel companies and tour operators, domestic tours are struggling to attract tourists. Popular tourist destinations such as Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang and Phú Quốc are waiting for visitors as domestic tours are experiencing a slump. Many hotels and accommodations in these locations have booking rates of 30-60 per cent, which is much lower than in previous years during the pandemic.

Data from Mustgo, a travel platform with a network of 2,000 hotels nationwide, shows that only Sa Pa has recorded a relatively high occupancy rate during the upcoming holiday, while major tourist sites like Nha Trang, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Ninh, and Phú Quốc still have hotel room occupancy rates below 60 per cent.

Lê Trung Thực, director of Sunset Sanato Resort and Villas in Phú Quốc, said that their hotel's booking rate was only around 30 per cent, much lower than the same period last year. The hotel is currently offering discounted room packages to attract guests during the holiday.

Representatives from Alma Resort in Nha Trang said their pre-booking rate for the holiday period has only reached about 60 per cent, despite offering a 30 per cent discount for guests who pay and book in advance.

Phương from Golden Smile Travel said this year's domestic tourism market during the holiday period has witnessed changes in the travel habits of people. Tourists are only buying plane and bus tickets rather than a complete package.

However, the cost of plane tickets is much higher than usual, which affects the willingness of people to book domestic tours.

Tourism companies estimate that the cost of plane tickets accounts for 40-60 per cent of the total cost of a tour. As a result, the rising cost of airfare is not only a concern for the aviation industry but also has a severe impact on tourism companies.


The number of air travellers increases significantly during the holiday season. VNA/VNS Photo

Mỹ Anh from Hải Đăng Travel Company said tours that use air travel during the holiday have increased by 60-80 per cent compared to normal days, while tours that use transportation by car have also increased by 20-40 per cent.

Việt Nam reopened to tourism on March 15, 2022. During last year’s holidays, the tourism industry was still in the recovery phase with fewer international visitors, so airlines were focusing on exploiting the domestic market with favourable ticket prices.

However, in 2023, the aviation and tourism market is expected to fully recover with a higher number of international tourists than in 2019, pushing up operating costs, and leading to higher airfare prices compared to the previous year to ensure operational efficiency.

In addition, fuel prices are continuing to rise, adding billions of đồng to airline operating costs. Therefore, airfare prices must increase in line with fuel prices to avoid losses.

Nguyễn Thị Khánh, Chairwoman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said the high airfare prices will have a certain impact on domestic tourism, especially in places that rely entirely on air travel. Therefore, to stimulate domestic tourism recovery, Khánh said it is time for the tourism and aviation industry to negotiate and collaborate to create effective domestic tourism stimulus programmes and have reasonable pricing policies for domestic tourism. – VNS