Direct flights to shape up Con Dao tourism: insiders hinh anh 1Bamboo will use the new-generation Embraer E 195 jets on the three routes (Photo: VietnamPlus).

Hanoi (VNA) –
Travelling to Con Dao island, a tourism spot off the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, will be made easier after Bamboo Airways launches new direct flights from Hanoi, Hai Phong and Vinh to the island from September 29.

Deputy Head of Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Vo Huy Cuong said at a seminar held on September 12 that demand on travelling to Con Dao has been increasing for years; however, it is difficult to fly to the island.

Along with flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho city, visitors can travel by high-speed boat to Con Dao, but it takes at least nine hours from Ho Chi Minh City, and four hours from Ba Ria – Vung Tau province to reach the island in calm sea condition.

Cuong said as Con Dao Airport is located on the island and it is difficult to invest in lights for night operation due to weather and environmental conditions, flights are only available during day time.

The Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), a subsidiary of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, is the only airline operating regular flights to the islands. Each flight can carry up to 68 passengers.

In this context, Bamboo Airway’s direct flights will satisfy spiritual tourism demand, help handle take-off time challenge at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, while saving travel time and fuel for connecting flights, Cuong affirmed.

Meanwhile, Vice President and General Director of Bamboo Airways Dang Tat Thang said the carrier’s target since its establishment is to connect localities with few flights with others.

It was so hard to reach the island, he said, adding his first trip to Con Dao took 12 hours to fly from Ho Chi Minh City.

He also admitted Bamboo faced challenge while trying to open the three routes as the airline previously considered using Airbus A319 aircraft for the flight; however, Con Dao Airport has a 1,830-metre-long runway, which is unable to accommodate the large aircraft.

During a business trip, Thang had chance to experience the new-generation Embraer E 195 jet and was very impressed. Receiving approval from the CAAV, Bamboo Airways worked to launch direct flights to the island, using E196 jets which can transport 124 passengers each flight, and the procedure last six months.

According to the CAAV’s statistics, up to 90 percent of visitors to Con Dao are from northern localities, they come to the island to experience spiritual tourism.

Bamboo Airways chose Hanoi, Hai Phong and Vinh to open direct flights since they have the largest population in the north, Thang added.

Director of the Tourism Department of Ba Ria – Vung Tau province Trinh Hang said that in the past, tourists had to fly to Con Dao by helicopters, which was very expensive. Although the airport has been so busy since it was built in 2004, with 26 weekend flights and 5-8 flights on weekdays, many tourists grumbled as they cannot buy tickets.

“With the new direct routes, tourists from the north can travel to Con Dao more conveniently. The locality has worked to develop tourism infrastructure to provide better services. It also considers a plan for sustainable tourism development, with the island’s ecosystem well preserved”, Hang said.

Meanwhile, Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s Tourism Market Department Dinh Ngoc Duc, Con Dao poses huge potential for tourism development since the number of tourists to the island surged 400 percent amidst few flights and poor traffic infrastructure.

He also expressed his wish to develop Con Dao sustainably, which means protecting the island is more prioritised than attracting more tourists.

“The three new routes of Bamboo Airways together with other provinces mark the starting point of the second stimulus tourism programme in the remaining months of the year. VNAT will accompany airlines, destinations and enterprise in the programme,” he said.

Last year, Con Dao welcomed nearly 400,000 tourists, an increase of 37 percent compared to 2018. After the period of social distance in early 2020, data showed the frequency of flights between HCM City and Can Tho to and from Con Dao was in the fastest recovery group./.