Worshiping together with traveling on the first days of the spring seems to be the spiritual need for many people. Therefore, in previous years, the demand for transport services was always very high after Tet. The vehicle rent jumped by 15-30 percent, from ordinary days. Especially, on auspicious days, which Vietnamese people believed were good for the departures, the rent might increase by 40-50 percent.
However, things seem quite different this year. In the economic downturn, transport companies now do not have many jobs to do. Meanwhile, many families use their private cars.
Deputy Director of Tien Thanh Trade, Tourism and Service Company Tran Ngoc Thanh complained that the number of customers reduces dramatically in comparison with the last year.
“Customers only booked services on the first 10 days after Tet. In previous years, people rushed to book the tours departing n 22nd-23rd of January. However, to date, we have got contracts until the 16th only,” Thanh said.
Director of Tuan Minh Trade and Tourism Company Nguyen Kien Cuong, also said he feels discouraged because the number of customers hiring vehicles on the 6th day of the new Lunar New Year was so low, even though this was considered an auspicious day. Especially, businesses and agencies – the biggest clients expected, did not book services.
“The number of vehicles booked for the departures in the first 10 days of January decreased by 40 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year,” he complained.
Nguyen Thi Thoan, Director of An Truong Phat Trade and Service Company, has noted that people now tend to order big cars. The number of clients ordering 45-seat cars has increased significantly. “Travelers may gather in big groups and rent big cars, which helps reduce the costs,” Thoan said.
She also said that in previous years, clients mostly made 2-day-and-1-night tours to Yen Tu-Cua Ong. However, nowadays, they tend to depart early in the morning and return home late.
Due to the low demand, Tien Thanh has raised the service fee by 200,000-400,000 dong per route. The cost for the travel to Yen Tu pagoda is 2.2 million dong, to Huong Pagoda 1.6-1.9 million dong, Tran Temple 1.6 million dong.
Tuan Minh has announced the rent of 5-6 million dong per day for 45-seat car to Bai Dinh-Trang An pagoda on weekend. Thoan said she may have to reduce the rent for the trips to depart after the 15th of January.
Travel firms scramble for short tours
After offering two tours from HCM City to Yen Tu, Huong and Bai Dinh Pagodas at 7.7-8.1 million dong (4 day tour), Du Lich Viet is selling the six day tour HCM City – Hanoi – Tuan Chau Island – Sa Pa. The travelers, who book the tour, will have to pay 9 million dong.
Meanwhile, Saigontourist is selling 10 tours to the northern, central and southern regions by air and road, which would depart in February and March, 2012.
“We are waiting for the airlines to accept the preferential airfares. Hopefully that the tour fees would not increase,” An said.
In Hanoi, on the ancient streets, travel firms organize short distance tours every day with low tour fees and flexible conditions. Vuong Manh Tien, a senior executive of Vietnam Open Travel, said one has to pay 400,000-500,000 dong only to go to Yen Tu, Huong and Bai Dinh pagodas, not including the tickets for suspension cable.