Climbing the tourism ranks, Vietnam is on its way to becoming one of the world’s most celebrated destinations, enticing those who seek adventure, diversity and something a little bit different. Tatiana Tsierkezou investigates.
In turmoil for decades, Vietnam has come a long way since the Vietnam War in all aspects of its development, but particularly in its tourism allure. Beautiful, intelligent and charming, the country’s touristic offering is overflowing with all of the right characteristics to seduce even the world’s most discerning traveller.
Reflecting on the Southeast Asian destination, one imagines luscious scenery, flowing rivers and flawless beaches; and this is exactly the case. However, let us also add incomparable hospitality, energetic cities, an insightful history and heritage, and adventure to the never-ending list, not to mention delicious cuisine.
Outlining why Vietnam is so rapidly rising in popularity was director of sales and marketing, The Nam Hai, Debbie Chee: “Vietnam is considered an exotic country to visit. Everybody knows the history of the Vietnam War and is rather curious about how the country has developed. Vietnam is a country of breath taking natural beauty with incredible heritage that quickly becomes addictive.”
Also underlining its allure was group director of sales, The Reverie Saigon, Vy Pham: “Vietnam caters very well to a wide range of leisure travellers, from the recreationally adventurous to food enthusiasts and history buffs. It does, however, make for a particularly attractive destination for culture hounds because of its rich culture, one which varies so diversely from north to south, and which has been rooted in a long history of the country having consistently been shaped by foreign influences.”
Pham explained that now is a particularly interesting time to experience the country because it’s not often that one has the opportunity to witness the evolution of a nation in the way that Vietnam is rapidly progressing at present, towards becoming a truly modern economy, establishing its rightful place on the global stage.
“There’s a vibrancy and energy that can be felt in the air, stemming from people’s hopes and dreams for what they can accomplish and become, and how they can contribute to the development of their country. It’s an exciting time,” she told TTG.
THE MASTER PLAN
And while the country moves forward, the tourism industry is at the ready to capitalise on all tourism potential, with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Vietnam Tourism Master Plan to 2020, paving the way.
Under this master plan, some key objectives include developing tourism as a key sector to strongly contribute to GDP; create a driving force to foster socio-economic development; developing tourism towards professionalism; developing both international and domestic tourism; focusing on inbound and better controlled outbound tourism; developing sustainable tourism development with an emphasis on preservation and the exploration of one’s own national culture value and nature; investing in tourism development, and much more.
Meanwhile, other key tourism stakeholders have been implementing various initiatives to raise awareness.
“We are promoting our product mainly through trade shows and tourism conferences,” explained senior marketing executive, Luxury Travel Vietnam, Nguyen Huyen to TTG, who added that the luxury tour operator and destination management company also makes use of printed and online advertising including guidebooks, magazines and websites to spread the word.
Huyen also explained that throughout 2015, the company attended ITB Asia, World Travel Market London and Latin America, Fitur, IFTM Topresa, Pata and TTM.
Also highlighting that a presence at exhibitions and industry events is fundamental was director of business development, Pilgrimage Village & Vedana Lagoon, Le Thi Da Lam, who explained that in 2015 the company attended ITB Berlin, Fitur, ILTM and many more.
“We also have representative offices for our main markets such as Germany, the UK, Japan and Spain,” she added.
And with these main markets listed, TTG sought to find out which other markets are regularly visiting the destination.
“For Trails of Indochina, North America, Australia and Europe remain our strongest markets, with a growing number of guests from South America. This will continue in 2016 with more European and UK travellers expected with the recent visa waivers,” said global director – sales and marketing, Trails of Indochina, Linh Le.
Also attracting the aforementioned markets, Chee, from The Nam Hai, added to the list, stating that throughout 2015 Korea, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, France, Switzerland and Singapore also fell among the top 10 markets.
Looking ahead she said: “In 2016 the markets will remain similar and we hope to attract the luxury Chinese market and the Middle Eastern market.”
TTG paid close attention as Chee went on to explain that The Nam Hai in Hoi An has begun exploring the Middle Eastern market by working with key wholesalers including Destinations of the World (DOTW) and GTA.
“The Middle Eastern market is still premature for Vietnam, although Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways do fly into Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi,” she said.
“We have a representative based in Dubai and also rely on our Leading Hotels of the World partner to help us penetrate the market. This is a market that we will continue to develop by working with our partners in the Middle East by extending attractive offers, educating our partners on Vietnam and inviting travel agencies to visit our destination in order for them to promote the destination to their respective client base.”
Highlighting to TTG that MENA is increasing in importance to Vietnam was Pham, who explained that Vietnam’s luxury portfolio is ideal for the Middle East’s luxury travellers. “The Middle East’s travellers tend to be high spenders who have an appreciation for luxury goods and services.”
Finally, marcom executive, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Le Thi My Hanh noted that the MENA market is extremely important to Vietnam for prosperity and global economic recovery.
Hanh said: “Vietnam and MENA countries possess enormous advantages and potential to complement each other in development cooperation especially as MENA countries possess abundant capital resources and rich, natural resources. Vietnam entices these countries via economic development and stable political groups. It’s a middle-income developing nation, moving towards industrialisation and modernisation.”