Can Tho and the delta are isolated from the main tourism route, and this typically costs about half the tourists in Vietnam a night in Saigon and half a day on the road, when simply opening a flight between Da Nang and Can Tho would put the delta on the main road and save everyone time and money, thus strengthening the demand at a time of budget constraints.
The Mekong delta has much to offer to a visitor. Its scenes of daily life revolving about the river, its markets and floating markets, and its welcoming, relaxed inhabitants make it an enjoyable destination, a bit away from the trodden paths. Its central city, Can Tho, is a quiet but active provincial city, from which it is easy to base expeditions out into the more remote parts of the delta.
The Typical tourist path while traveling in Vietnam
Yet the delta is still away from the main route. Most travelers to Vietnam would enter the country in the North, visit Hanoi, Halong and maybe some ethnic minorities in the northern highlands, then make their way to Hue and the vestiges of the kingdom before they head South to Ho Chi Minh City, from where they will eventually leave Vietnam after an extension, maybe to a beach or an island, or indeed to the delta. To get a complete picture of Vietnam, most visitors cannot give up on the cultural heritage of Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang, and will pass through the Center between North and South.
The roads are getting better and the transfer to the delta takes less than three hours on a normal day, yet going to the delta typically entails spending one night in Ho Chi Minh City and one morning on the road, if not both ways. This makes it actually costly in budget and in time.
Cần Thơ is connected by flights with Hanoi, but not with the Central part of Vietnam, and these flights usually carry mostly public officers and businessmen, a few Vietnamese tourists, but in fact no foreign, high-revenue tourists.
Today, the major part of foreign visitors to the delta just hop on a day trip to Northern Ben Tre or Cai Be, and thus miss the better part of the interest of the delta, gathering instead with crowds at more touristy places. If they could have flown directly from Central Vietnam to Can Tho, they would have an opportunity to see more of the delta, experience a floating market before setting out on the way to Saigon, without any more time on the road, or an additional night.
On the reverse direction, many tours are starting to run from South to North, and they typically would benefit from flights from Can Tho to Da Nang all the same. Indeed, operators of local tourism expressed their interest in such flights, as the Mekong delta is getting richer and many inhabitants would go on tours if there were direct flights, whereas they now have to transfer all the way to Ho Chi Minh City to take a flight to Hue or Da Nang.
We need Vietnam Airlines to see this opportunity
at a time of increasing costs, some simple logistics choices like opening a flight between Da Nang (or Hue) and Can Tho would increase the actual visit time without entailing costs in time or budget, and help strengthen the demand for round-Vietnam tourism, which would be very welcome in these slow times.