Volatile hotel price ‘a failure of Vietnam tourism’

Hotel room rates are never a constant, as most hotels across Vietnam are not hesitant to increase prices by two or three times during peak vacations

Foreign tourists are seen at Da Nang International Airport in Da Nang City on January 31, 2014.

It is now a week away from the six-day public holiday during which Vietnam will celebrate its 40th anniversary of reunification, and tourists will not be surprised if they are charged higher than usual by hotels in touristy spots.

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Hotel room rates are never a constant, as most hotels throughout Vietnam are not hesitant to increase their prices two- or three-fold during peak vacation times.

Almost all hotels in Da Lat have reported fully booked for stays between April 28 and May 3, with prices skyrocketing up to three-fold compared to normal rates.

Salaried people in Vietnam will have a six-day public holiday, lasting from April 28 to May 3. The holiday combines the Hung Kings’ Death Anniversary on April 28; Reunification Day on April 30; and Labor Day on May 1.

A single room now fetches VND400,000 (US$18.64) to VND600,000 ($27.96) per night, and double room, VND800,000 ($37.3) to VND1.2 million ($56), according to what Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters have seen at two-star hotels in downtown Da Lat.

Rates for double rooms in three- and four-star hotels range from VND1.5 million ($70) to VND3.5 million ($163) per night.

Da Lat, the capital city of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, is home to 677 accommodation facilities, collectively supplying 11,627 rooms to tourists, according to the province’s tourism department.

In Da Nang, room rates have also skyrocketed as the central city will host a two-day international fireworks contest, starting Tuesday next week.

Local hotels are only allowed to increase prices by 50 percent at most, according to an order by the city’s administration.

Most lodging facilities along the beach are fully booked, with three-star hotels strictly complying with existing regulations by openly quoting their prices.

But smaller places are overcharging lodgers with prices more than double the normal rates, Tuoi Tre observed.

A hotel in Son Tra District told a Tuoi Tre correspondent it only accepts booking for a three-day stay, with a single room priced at VND1.5 million compared to VND500,000 as normal.

“The fact that hotels in some localities hike their prices to exorbitant rates is a failure of tourism,” Le Tien Dung, general director of Hoi An Tourist Co., said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.

The event was held by the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) to discuss ways to boost the competitiveness of local lodging facilities.

Dung said tourists will turn their back on any hotels where prices are constantly changed.

The unstable price policy is also the culprit that weakens the competitiveness of Vietnam’s hotel system, said VITA chairwoman Do Thi Hong Xoan.

“There are times when room rates in Vietnam are higher than other nearby destinations, making tour packages more expensive and unattractive to holidaymakers,” Xoan was quoted by The Saigon Times Online as saying.

On the other hand, some hotels tend to offer cheap prices but they incline to provide customers with poor services, which in turn ruins the reputation of the whole hotel sector, she added.

Many tour organizers also criticized the constantly changed hotel prices in Vietnam, saying they are a hindrance that prevents them from luring more vacationers, according to The Saigon Times Online.

Many hotels quote high prices at the beginning of the year, and later slash the prices to improve poor bookings.

But it will then be too late for tour organizers to lower the prices of their packages accordingly, travel firms said at the conference.

Hotel prices are far more stable in Thailand and Malaysia, enabling tour organizers to offer the best prices to tourists one year in advance, they added.

As of the end of last year, there were 16,000 lodging facilities with a total of 332,000 rooms across Vietnam, according to VITA data.

There are only 75 five-star hotels in the Southeast Asian country, while the number of one-star hotels is 2,460. More than 11,700 facilities are below the one-star standard but qualified to serve tourists.

With 94 percent of the lodging venues operating on a small scale, Vietnam is only less competitive compared with other destinations in Southeast Asia when hotel prices are unstable.

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