Industry insiders have pointed to skyrocketing airfares and poor nightlife as continuing challenges for Vietnam's domestic tourism this year as increasing numbers of travelers opt to go abroad instead.
Dinh Thi Thu Thao, sales director of Mustgo Travel Company, said Vietnam's domestic tourism market would also suffer because travelers are tightening their spending amid the economic downturn.
Some carriers such as Bamboo Airways, Pacific Airlines and Vietravel Airlines have suspended domestic routes to tourist destinations like Phu Quoc, Nha Trang and Quy Nhon, causing airfares to soar.
The increase in the ceiling price of domestic air tickets from March could discourage people from traveling, Thao said.
"Domestic destinations that are mainly connected by air will face lots of difficulties while traveling abroad has become increasingly easy with cheap costs," Thao said.
Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of travel company Best Price, said this year many tourists would save costs by choosing nearby destinations easily accessible by car to avoid expensive airfares.
This means they will stay fewer days, causing low hotel occupancy rates, Tu added.
In addition, poor nightlife activities in major cities like Hanoi, HCMC and Da Nang have also disappointed tourists, Tu said.
Many tourists have complained they have limited entertainment options at night in Vietnam's major cities as most establishments and eateries close by 10 p.m., leaving them few opportunities to spend money.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam last month predicted the number of domestic air passengers would decrease 8% this year, primarily due to the suspension of domestic routes with low demand and the likelihood of increased ticket prices.
Domestic airlines transported 74 million passengers this year, up 34.5% from 2022 and the equivalent of nearly 94% of pre-pandemic levels.
Amid soaring airfares at home, many Vietnamese have been flocking to travel abroad due to cheap airfares and budget-friendly tour packages.
Last year, five million Vietnamese traveled abroad, double the 2022 figure, with Thailand, South Korea and Japan being the most favored destinations.
Tu of Best Price said the outbound tourism market would remain busy this year as official external affairs activities between Vietnam and South Korea and China are expected to to boost tourism.
In terms of inbound travel, experts said long wait times for visa approvals and issuance remain a bottleneck that should be resolved as soon as possible.
Pham Hai Quynh, director of the Institute of Asian Tourism Development, said granting three-month tourist visas for all countries in the world was a bright spot for Vietnamese tourism last year.
But many travelers have still complained time-wasting procedures that triggered long wait times for visa approvals.
Vietnam received 12.6 million foreign arrivals last year, less than half of Thailand's 28 million.
This year Vietnam targets 18 million foreign arrivals, equal to its record number achieved in 2019.
Source: CCIPV / E VNEXPRESS