The tourism trend is changing in Vietnam, with local tours rising in popularity to catch up with outbound travel this summer because of attractive promotions offered by travel operators.
Travel agents have cooperated with airlines, hotels and other service providers to cut prices during the high season between May and September, Nguyen Minh Man, head of communications at Vietravel, said.
"This has made inbound tours more attractive than outbound ones."
The number of people booking local tours has increased by 20-25 percent over the same period last year, travel agents said. The most popular destinations for holiday goers from Hanoi are central coastal provinces and the southern islands.
Just a few years ago people used to prefer outbound tours to Asian destinations like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and Hong Kong due to their competitive prices, Man said.
But the trend has changed this year due to the big promotions on offer.
Vietnam Airlines has offered fare discounts of 38-52 percent to several travel agents, which has helped the latter cut prices by 20-50 percent.
Man said his company is now offering discounts of 40 percent on tours from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Quy Nhon, and 30-45 percent on tours to some central and southern islands.
"Last year 60 percent of our customers chose outbound tours. This year the rate has been more balanced with half choosing inbound tours."
Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy head of travel agent Hanoi Redtour, said his firm has received more than 1,500 bookings this month, up 30 percent year-on-year, mostly to Da Nang, Quang Nam, and Nha Trang in the central region and Phu Quoc.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign visitors booking tours to Vietnam is not expected to increase sharply this summer because there are no signs of a global economic recovery to spur their tourism demand, an official from the Vietnam Tourism Association said.
To boost tourism, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has urged the government to halve value added tax and waive or halve income tax for travel firms.
The association has petitioned the government to ease visa regulations. It said Vietnam should not scrap the visa waiver currently in place for tourists from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. Citizens from these countries can travel visit Vietnam for 15 days without a visa.
Around 2.4 million international visitors came to the country in the first four months of this year, down 5.2 percent year-on-year, according to the association.
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