With its heritage expertly weaved into its burgeoning tourism industry, Vietnam is one of southeast Asia’s masterpieces. This spirited destination is swiftly rising in popularity among global travellers, but what are stakeholders doing to augment the country’s touristic offering? Tatiana Tsierkezou finds out.
Vietnam’s spellbinding beauty is one of the main reasons contemporary travellers feel compelled to visit. Armed with this, and a constantly developing tourism infrastructure, the country is truly one of southeast Asia’s rising stars, and this has been made quite obvious following a recent boom in visitor numbers.
During the first six months of 2018, almost eight million international travellers selected Vietnam as their destination of choice. This impressive number brought forth a 27.2 per cent jump on the figures recorded during the corresponding period in 2017.
Director of business development, The Reverie Saigon, Albert Lafuente, who recently joined the property, explained that Vietnam has always been at the forefront of tourism in the region.
“We believe that its tourism strategies are working and we are confident that the country will achieve its target of 15 million international arrivals by year-end.”
Also feeling extremely confident about the direction the country’s tourism industry is moving in was group managing director, Asia DMC, Linh Le, who told TTG: “I believe the tourism industry in Vietnam will continue growing in both quality and quantity to make Vietnam a friendly and attractive destination, affirming the position of the country on the regional and world tourism map.”
When one reflects on Vietnam a decade ago, the country was still somewhat undiscovered, and most definitely wasn’t at the top of international travellers’ to-do lists. Ten years later, things are a bit different.
“It has changed beyond recognition from being an almost mystical, off-the-grid backpacker haunt to a world-class destination that’s now as famous for five-star luxury resorts and hotels as it is for super-cheap hostels and guesthouses,” explained CEO, Fusion (an expert in wellness-inspired hotels), Atilla Erda. “Just about everyone in the world has heard of Vietnam, and while that wasn’t always for good reasons, things are improving as the word gets out.”
Lafuente from The Reverie Saigon added: “True to its marketing campaign slogan, ‘Timeless Charm’, Vietnam is still as timeless and as exotic as it was decades ago. It has strong cultural, historical and even religious attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. While Hanoi, Saigon and Danang may have changed dramatically due to a massive build-up of tourism infrastructure, much of the rest of the country has kept its rustic charm, offering visitors more authentic experiences.”
But let’s get into specifics; what is actually changing within the country’s tourism sector and what are stakeholders doing to keep the industry moving forward?
According CEO and founder, Trails of Indochina, John Tu Nguyen, reasonably priced high-end hotels and resorts have become available in both major and secondary cities, making the destination more attractive.
“Vietnam has opened up with more destinations and products, as well as a great variety of sightseeing. In the coming years, Vietnam will continue to develop more exciting products and smaller cities will offer more interesting experiences,” he added.
As well as numerous hospitality developments, the Vietnamese Government is working hard to streamline its transport system to boost connectivity.
Lafuente elaborated: “Most of the government’s current initiatives are focused on infrastructure development, which will eventually impact the tourism industry. The development of the Saigon subway system is progressing very well and it is expected to be ready in two years.”
He additionally shared that a new airport terminal is being planned and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism Masterplan is working to redevelop waterways to promote ‘river tourism’, given that the city evolved from the confluence of the Saigon River and its numerous canals.
Also touching upon the sudden focus of airport development was Fusion’s Erda, who explained that as well as excitement around the new out-of-town location for Ho Chi Minh City’s main international hub, regional airports all over the country are also very keen to expand as the tourism boom slowly reaches into previously untapped provinces such as Quang Binh.
“For hospitality brands like Fusion, such developments are hugely important. While we can continue to build properties to meet the rising demand for rooms, it will be a futile effort if there simply aren’t enough inbound flights to bring everyone here,” he told TTG.
A busy year for the hospitality expert, Fusion recently expanded its room count at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, and will do the same at Fusion Resort Cam Ranh next year. The company is also readying itself for the launch of its new ‘Fusion Originals’ brand in Saigon.
“Darwin – a Fusion Original will open in District 1 in the summer (2019),” Erda said. “Our third all-suite hotel, Fusion Suites Vung Tau, will also open in 2019. Looking to 2020 and beyond, we’re currently working on new resorts in Da Nang and Quang Binh.”
Moving away from these exciting hospitality developments, Le of Asia DMC explained to TTG that travel nowadays is more focused on rejuvenation, fulfilment, learning new skills and expressing a lifestyle, rather than being a typical tourist. In turn, Asia DMC now offers more affordable, yet accessible, experiential travel options.
Le also proudly shared that Asia DMC has become the first company of its kind to launch a pioneering carbon offset product, which has been designed to reduce the negative impacts of tourism and improve the environmental and social standing of the business and its partners.
“We are working with Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) to offer ‘sustainability-approved’ packages and provide responsible travel advice, as well as the option for our clients to offset the carbon volume from their trip for $1 per person, per day. Each purchase will be attributed to United Nation or Gold Standard certified projects, such as solar energy, wind farms, reforestation and cook stove projects, to counteract the emissions that cannot be avoided during the trips,” Le explained.
Equipped with a devoted team of passionate and thoughtful travel and tourism entities, Vietnam is ready to quench the global traveller’s thirst for adventure.