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Homestay owners hit by price war of big hotels near Central tourist attraction

Homestay owners hit by price war of big hotels near Central tourist attraction

Small hoteliers in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, which is a renowned tourist area in Quang Binh province, have been suffering from a price war between big hotels.
00:00, 03/06/2019

Recently, visitors to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, which is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site and home to the world's largest cave Son Doong, have been surprised by the unusually cheap prices quoted by several local hotels.

Room rates in Phong Nha are as low as VND30,000-50,000 ($1.29-2.15) per night, way below the common rates of VND150,000-200,000 ($6.43-8.57) per night, search results from online hotel booking site Booking.com showed.

However, the low accommodation cost does not necessarily mean tourists who love to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site are delighted.

Visitors and tents in a cave of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park.

Visitors and tents in a cave of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park.

Instead of deeming attractive to visitors to Quang Binh, the low pricing is considered a disgrace to such a top destination.

Local farmers who have switched from farming to tourism by turning their houses into small-sized lodging places to cash in on the increased number of visitors in recent years said the race to the bottom began after the Lunar New Year in February, which is one of the country’s peak tourism seasons.

Among over 100 accomodation facilities in the area, ten of the strongest players are believed to be behind the price war, N., an industry insider said.

He told Tuoi Tre news: “There has been an intense competition in pricing among owners of major hotels in the area, where they repeatedly slash room rates to beat their rivals. But small-sized accommodation facilities are those who suffer the worst consequences.”

Most of the farmers-turned-hoteliers have borrowed bank loans to build their business, which was dealt a cruel blow when the price war erupted.

A 37-year-old homestay owner named T. said he could not afford payment for employee wages and bank interest with such a low room rate as VND30,000 per night.

Head of the market surveillance agency of Quang Binh Vu Quang Thang said he acknowledges the current price war between major hotels and understands the concerns of owners of smaller lodging places.

However, Mr Thang admitted that his agency could do nothing regarding this problem.

“Only when hotels charge their guests higher than the listed prices will the market watchdog take action,” Thang explained.

Chairman of the province’s Tourism Association Nguyen Van Ky put the blame on the shortage of cooperation among hotel facilities. He said only 11 out more than 100 accomodation facilities in the area have joined the provincial tourism association. 

He added: “If these establishments are members of one same association and lean on each other in their operations there will definitely be no race in lowering prices like this.”

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