May holiday tours fully booked despite economic difficulties
The long May holiday (4 days) brings many choices to travellers. Ten days ago, a group of seven people from a media company decided to travel to Cuu Long River Delta waterways. The young people decided to depart from Hanoi, travel four days and four nights to eight provinces in the western region of the south, from April 29 to May 3, at VND5.5mil per traveller. They will fly from Hanoi to HCM City, and then travel in coaches.


However, this is not really the best choice. Those who have travelled to the Cuu Long River Delta know that it takes several hours to go through every province along 1A Highway.


Therefore, the tour with the direct flight from Hanoi to Can Tho and the 4-day-3-night itinerary proves to be the choice of many travellers. According to Vietnamtourism in Hanoi, since the company began providing the tours, it has organised 60 tours so far.


Le Thu Hang, Head of the Market Division 3 of Vietnamtourism in Hanoi, said that the top choice of travellers this year is going to the sea.


Travel firms have advised people to avoid travelling on the holiday in order to avoid bad traffic and high costs. For example, if travelling from Hanoi to Nha Trang city and Vinpearl Island (4 days and 3 nights) one week before April 30, travellers will have to pay VND4.5mil/person, while they will have to pay VND2mil more per person if they travel on the holiday. The cost for travelling from Hanoi to Sapa is VND1.5mil per person on ordinary days, while the cost will be VND1.9mil on the holiday.


According to Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh, Deputy General Director of Vietnamtourism in Hanoi, the May holiday will witnesses the interruption of the tourism promotion programme while demand increases sharply. After that, Thanh said, tour prices will decrease again.


Number of travellers down in the north, high in the south


Travel firms in the north all say that the sea tours (Nha Trang, Da Nang and Hoi An) are fully booked. However, the tours from Hanoi to Quang Binh, Cat Ba, Quy Nhon and Sa Pa for April 30 still have much room.


Hang noted that by the same time of previous years, tours had been all booked, and travellers scrambled to book tours, while things are less tense this year. However, Hang believes that tours will be fully booked in some more days.


More and more Vietnamese travellers nowadays want to travel abroad in Asia (Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea) because of reasonable fees.


Thanh said that the number of travellers has decreased a little in comparison with last year. However, Thanh said that it would be satisfactory for travel firms to retain clients nowadays, when clients have to tighten purse strings and reduce travelling.


The southern market proves to be more bustling with the number of travellers booking tours on the increase. Nguyen Quoc Ky, Director of Vietravel, said that all tours have nearly been booked with the number of travellers up by 20-25%.


Vo Anh Tai, Director of Saigontourist, said that the company has launched more than 100 economy, high-grade and traditional tours designed specifically for the May holiday.


Meanwhile, sea tours (Nha Trang, Con Dao, Phu Quoc Island, Phan Thiet) and the tour to Cambodia have been attractive to travellers. By mid March 2009, the number of travellers booking tours for the May holiday at Saigontourist had reached over 4,000.


The biggest worry for travellers now is lack of air tickets. A travel firm said that airlines have cooperation agreements with many travel firms, and they divide air tickets equally to all travel firms, independent of the number of firms’ travellers.


Ha Yen