Small tour operators are peeved that airline companies are not cooperating with them by offering discounted tickets and allowing bulk bookings where the names of passengers can be filled in later.

The Dau Tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper quotes Le Quang Dao, deputy director of the Vietnamese Vision Tourism Co, as saying, "If both sides don't support each other on pricing and advertising, any joint campaign to boost the tourism potential of a region will not be effective."

At present, air tickets purchased by tour operators cost the same as for other customers.

The operators also complain that when they organise tours for big groups, they have to pay 100 percent of air-ticket fare and supply full names and other details of the customers.

In contrast, when these companies make hotel bookings for their customers, they only have to make a 30 percent deposit and can accommodate customers who join the tour at the last minute.

"Airlines should consider such conditions, about part payment and late name registration for tourism companies," said Kim Dung, manager of Travel Channel Company.

With the virtual monopoly, that national carrier Vietnam Airlines enjoys in the domestic market, tour operators have had to struggle with a limited number of air tickets as well as loose cooperation in tourism promotion campaigns, the Dau Tu reports.

"Both sides should set up cooperation plans for detailed market campaigns," it quotes Vu The Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Travel Association, as saying.

For their part, airline companies say they do not get enough information from the National Tourism Administration as well as tour operators in order to form a cooperative relationship, the report says.

To improve the situation, the National Tourism Administration and Vietnam Airlines are preparing to sign a cooperation pact for the 2011 – 15 period.

In the first six months of this year, international tourists coming to Vietnam by air increased by nearly 24 percent, while arrivals by sea and road saw reductions of 15 and 4.5 percent respectively./.