Who Makes Miracle of Vietnam Tourism?

1:15:35 PM | 10/9/2019

Vietnam's tourism industry has witnessed dramatic transformations of potentially tapped places over the past decade, triggered by big investors. But, can Vietnam's hospitality industry catch up with that of Singapore and Malaysia, and narrow the gap with Thailand?

Awakened lands

According to statistics, in 2007, only four million international tourists came to Vietnam and the figure even dropped to 3.8 million in 2009. After more than a decade, international tourist arrivals to Vietnam have increased sharply. Specifically, in 2018, Vietnam welcomed about 15.6 million international visitors and earned total tourism revenue of over VND620 trillion (US$27 billion).

Thus, after more than 10 years, the number of international visitors to Vietnam has increased nearly 4 times. This year, the country strives to attract 18 million international visitors and fetch tourism revenue of over VND700 trillion (US$30.4 billion), an unimaginable figure 10 years ago.

Mr. Nguyen Van Tuan, former General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said, it was a “miracle of Vietnam’s tourism”. This achievement comes from not only the right approach of all-tier governments for economic shifting from industry and agriculture to trade and services, but also considerable contributions of major economic groups.

Giant private corporations such as Vingroup, Sun Group and BRG have invested heavily in tourism infrastructure, making the face of Vietnam's tourism industry change completely. In 2009, Vietnam had only 33 five-star hotels, 90 four-star hotels and 176 three-star hotels. Now, from Hanoi to Da Nang, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Phu Quoc, you can see 4-star or 5-star hotels everywhere, many of which are managed by major hotel and resort brands.

From just a few sizeable amusement parks across the country, major tourism localities like Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Quang Ninh have become tourist attractions with amusement parks and entertainment parks like Sun World Ba Na Hills, Sun World Danang Wonders (Da Nang), Sun World Halong Complex, Dragon Park, Typhoon Water Park (Ha Long) and Vinpearl Land (Nha Trang).

High-class resorts are springing up. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Da Nang has become a destination for politicians, VIPs and billionaires in the world because its splendid luxury has been recognized by the world with the “World Luxury Resort” Award for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016.

Catching up with neighbors?

The miraculous growth of Vietnam's tourism over the past time has been the basis for us to believe that we can catch up and even surpass some countries in the region such as Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. In 2018, Vietnam welcomed 15.6 million international visitors, almost matching Indonesia (15.8 million foreign tourists). If Vietnam can receive 18 million visitors in 2019 as expected, it will be on par with Singapore (18.5 million visitors in 2018).

Although we are not able to surpass Malaysia (25.8 million) soon, according to tourism experts, tourism potential in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore are not better than that of Vietnam. But, for tourism infrastructure and service, Vietnam will have to accelerate much faster to draw near them.

The biggest advantage of Singapore tourism is not the beauty of nature but tourism infrastructure and services. With iconic tourist projects and entertainment complexes such as Marina Bay Sands, Botanical Garden, Resort World Sentosa and Universal Studio, or shopping streets filled with world-renowned brands like Orchard Road, Singapore attracts tourists with its modern and synchronized tourism infrastructure.

Thailand's tourism has continuously grown on an average of 30-40% annually in the last 10 years despite political instability and natural disasters. By investing in tourism infrastructure and services, the country has turned Phuket into a resort paradise, Pattaya into an endless entertainment country and Bangkok into a shopping paradise.

Looking from what neighboring countries have done, what Vietnam tourism has been doing is just the beginning. There is still a long way to go to catch up, and the action of major domestic and foreign investors will still be a trump card to lift Vietnam's tourism industry.