There are many opportunities to enjoy attractive trips within Vietnam these days. Travel firms offer a lot of low cost tours under tourism promotion programmes, but they come with strings attached.
Trip packages multiply
Discounted air tickets have been sold since March 1, 2010, competition that has helped create favourable conditions for travel firms to sell tours.
It is now the high season for domestic travel because people have the habit of attending spring festivals. The director of a travel firm in the north told VietNamNet that at the Yen Tu and Huong Pagodas, he heard a lot of people speaking with a southern accent.
In fact, sensing substantial new demand for discount packages, travel firms in the north are scurrying to collect travelers and prepare more tour offerings. However, most of them say that they cannot organize low cost tours right in this month because of the limited time. It takes from one week to 15 days to confirm seats on flights alone. Tran Thanh Cong, Deputy Director of Hanoitourist, said that he will only be able to start providing low cost tours in early April at the soonest.
The He Tre Travel Firm, however, rolled out its first tours of the Lunar New Year by organizing tours for two groups of 15-18 people who travelled from HCM City to Hanoi and then to Ha Long Bay, Trang An and Sa Pa. On March 25, other lucky travelers could buy low cost tours from Hanoi to the Mekong Delta from the Vietnam Tourism and Sports Company.
The discounted tours are very attractive. In-country travellers can now visit attractive destinations like Da Lat, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, the Mekong Delta, Da Nang, Hoi An, Sa Pa and Ha Long Bay for 25, 40 even 50 percent less than before.
Talking with VietNamNet, most travel firms said they hope for big growth in the number of domestic travelers in 2010. Hanoitourist is planning to serve a thirty percent increase in demand. In the south, twenty travel firms have signed up as members of the “Domestic Travel Promotion Group,” which aim to sell 20,000 tour packages featuring low cost air fare, or forty percent more than in 2009.
A deputy group leader, Tran The Dung, said that the team is going to visit hotels, restaurants, attractions and entertainment places and bus companies in fifteen key cities and provinces, calling on them to agree to twenty to forty percent service fee reductions in order to lure more tourists.
Travel firms all said that because the foundation of the the low cost tour packages is low cost air tickets, travelers must accept very strict conditions to take the tours.
For example, at Hanoitourist, clients need to provide the exact names of travelers 15 days in advance. Tickets are issued 10 days before the departure time. Travelers must deposit of 50 percent of the tour value as soon as their seats are confirmed by the travel firm. Travel agents cannot cancel or change the flights if tickets are issued already.
Some other travel firms only quote the fees of the tours excluding airfare. Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh, Deputy Director of Vietnamtourism in Hanoi, explained that the total tour fee will be flexible depending on the airfare, which is decided by the time of booking. This means that if travelers book tours well in advance, they will be able to have cheap tours, while if they book tours just a few days before the departure time, they will have to accept higher prices.
Besides air carriers, Vietnam Rail has also joined the tourism promotion programme, announcing reductions of twenty to fifty percent on railway tickets for passengers between HCM City and Hue or Quy Nhon from March 15 to April 20 and from May 4 to May 31. The fifty percent reduction is for passengers using the SH1 and SH2 trains (HCM City – Hue – HCM City) and AQN1 and AQN2 (HCM City – Quy Nhon – HCM City).