Korea Music Festival

South Korea restricts budget tours from Vietnam

Vietnam’s travel agencies offering budget tours valued at less than VND12 million (US$537) a visitor to South Korea can neither receive advertising assistance nor participate in joint tourism promotions from the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO).

The office of KTO in Vietnam said the move is meant to limit cheap and low-quality tours to South Korea. A tour for Vietnamese tourists to South Korea used to cost some VND20 million (US$896), but now many travel firms have reduced the price to less than VND12 million (US$537) per visitor.

Cheap tours often include visits to shopping destinations which often disappoint travelers as they do not have much time for sightseeing.

“We have been cooperating with and supporting domestic travel firms to organize tours to South Korea, but from now on, we will cut special offers for enterprises selling their products at less than VND12 million,” Le Thi Thu Trang, marketing manager of the KTO in Vietnam, told the Daily.

The number of Vietnamese travelers to South Korea has grown sharply. The figure has more than doubled from 106,000 in 2012 when KTO opened its office in Vietnam to an estimated 240,000 this year thanks to the organization’s tour promotions and support for Vietnamese tour operators.

KTO signed a tourism development cooperation agreement with national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and local tour operator Vietravel last Thursday, Trang added. In particular, with Vietnam Airlines, the two sides are committed to boosting tourism promotions, and connecting flights between South Korea and local destinations such as Haiphong and Quang Ninh to increase the number of tourists.

Meanwhile, Vietravel is cooperating with KTO to sell more tours with an aim to make South Korea its key market.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has signed a memorandum of understanding with KTO to enhance tourism links between two nations. It is expected the number of tourists between the two sides will soar up to 3 million in 2018.

South Korea is now the second largest source market for Vietnam’s tourism sector, with 1.5 million Korean arrivals expected this year.