According to local tour providers, with the increased number of flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Japan, tours to Japan are now 20-30% cheaper compared to the same period last year.
In Tokyo, high-frequency airliners such as Vietnam Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines use both Haneda and Narita Airports for Vietnam-Japan flights.
Since early June, 2014, All Nippon Airways also uses Boeing’s latest B787 for the Hanoi- Haneda flight.
Starting in July 2014, Vietnam Airlines, which has several flights to Japan, has launched a flight from Da Nang to Tokyo to cater to tourists in Vietnam’s central region.
As Chinese-speaking tourists to Japan has dropped recently, Vietnamese tourists have grown to be the substitute.
Local tour providers’ partners, who mostly have major Malaysian and Singaporean shareholders, have thus offered special discounts to draw more tourists from Vietnam.
Meanwhile, according to Takahiko Ohata, chair of Overseas Tour Operators Association of Japan (OTOA), domestic tourists have plummeted in recent years, causing Japanese tour providers, who had focused mostly on Japanese tourists, to switch to other markets.
“Vietnam is a potential market. We’ve just applied for a permit in catering to more inbound tourists, mostly Vietnamese ones,” Ohata added.
Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said that his agency has introduced 30 local tour providers to Japanese partners.
Vietnam Society of Travel Agents (VISTA) recently opened its representative office in Tokyo to take more Vietnamese tourists to Japan and promote Vietnamese tourism in the country.
Lam Tu Khoi, vice CEO of Saigontourist, one of Vietnam’s major tour providers, noted that in recent times, a number of hotels in Japan have offered Vietnamese tour companies attractive room rates, special discounts and promoted the scenic spots in their areas.
At a meeting last month, Vietnam and Japan tourism watchdogs agreed that 200,000 Vietnamese tourists will visit Japan each year in three years’ time, while 1 million Japanese tourists will visit Vietnam each year.
Last year saw 60,000 Vietnamese arrivals in Japan and 640,000 Japanese arrivals in Vietnam.
However, there’re growing concerns that Vietnamese tourists may settle in Japan illegally now that they will soon be able to enjoy substantial relaxations of visa requirements.
Therefore, tourists who don’t travel in tours will have much more difficulty obtaining visas to Japan, local tour companies noted.