Foreign visitors decline 18%; airlines cut flights

The number of foreign visitors dropped 17.8 percent to about 1.3 million in the first four months compared to the same period last year as a result of the global downturn.

The number of visitors from key markets, including China, South Korea and Japan, all decreased by as much as 30 percent, according to figures from the General Statistics Office posted on the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s website Wednesday.

Arrivals by air fell by 10 percent while arrivals by cruise ships tumbled by more than 60 percent.

International airlines have cut down their summer flight schedule to Vietnam in response to decreasing demand for air travel, a consequence of the global economic recession.

Preliminary statistics show a year over year decrease in international flights to and from Vietnam of four percent from the end of March to October. Airlines which have reduced service to Vietnam include Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia.

In the first quarter of 2009, Vietnam Airlines carried 2.26mil passengers, a decrease of 5% over the same period of the last year. These include 866,970 international passengers, 9% percent less than a year ago.

There is also positive news for Vietnam’s aviation market, however. Shanghai Airlines will begin thrice-weekly service between Hanoi and Shanghai this summer. From June 1, Northwest Airlines will fly daily from HCM City to destinations in the US via Tokyo, becoming the second US air carrier to serve Vietnam.

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Foreign visitors decline 18%
Airlines cut summer flight schedules