Indonesian tour operators are upbeat about the growth of arrivals from Vietnam on the back of improved access from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Bali, in particular, has seen healthy growth in traffic from Vietnam, notably since Vietjet started a five-times-weekly service from Ho Chi Minh City last May, after which Vietnam Airlines started to fly the same route in October.
As well, Jakarta enjoys direct connections with Ho Chi Minh City with the help of Vietnam Airlines.
Arrivals between January and November 2019 grew by 26 per cent over the same period in 2018, while arrivals into Bali was up 40 per cent, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MTCE).
Further growth is expected this year as Vietjet commences its daily service between Hanoi and Bali from January 26.
Irwan Raman, executive director of OneAsia Indonesia, said: “Through our representative in Vietnam, we already have 13 leisure and incentive groups to Bali and two to Yogyakarta. We are optimistic that the market will continue to grow, thanks to the direct flights.
“I hope that the MTCE will strengthen its marketing activities here. In fact, they should start expanding their reach to the neighbouring cities.”
Jonathan Tran, executive director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Lac Hong Voyages, said: “Vietnamese travellers like Bali, particularly for its culture, food and weather. Now, every week, we have groups going to Bali and we have started to see some groups going to Yogyakarta, too.
“Last year, we did a presentation to introduce Indonesia (to clients) in Hanoi, and the feedback was good.”
Meanwhile, Adjie Wahjono, operations manager of Aneka Kartika Tours, sees the opportunity to maximise capacity by tapping the longhaul markets, especially with Vietnam Airlines, which also has flights to Europe.
He said: “Philippine Airlines’ Manila-Bali route, for example, does not only carry Filipinos but also Chinese and Japanese markets. So there is an opportunity for European tour operators to work with Vietnam Airlines to bring tourists to Indonesia through Ho Chi Minh City.”
In fact, Tran said the DMC had been selling combined packages to leverage Vietnam Airlines’ Paris, London and Frankfurt services to Ho Chi Minh City.
Conversely, Vietnam has yet to benefit significantly from the improved air connectivity with Indonesia.
Ha Van Siew, vice chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, explained: “(Most of) these flights are to Bali, while the (key outbound) market is Jakarta. What we need is a good link (with Jakarta).”
On this, Tran said: “We are waiting for Garuda to begin flights to Vietnam.”
He added that Vietnam needs to compete with popular destinations like Thailand, Japan and South Korea, and to improve on its halal offerings in order to attract Indonesian travellers.
Irwan opined that Vietnamese airlines could still capture the Indonesian market by capitalising on the airlines’ longhaul and regional network.