Awakening Yen Bai’s potential

September 06, 2022 | 17:24
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Underdeveloped tourism destinations like Yen Bai could be seen as a risky investment, but new tourism products can also awaken the potential of such a place. Dao Duc Long, director of Project Development at Minh Duc Green Tour JSC, told VIR’s Hoang Oanh why the company is moving forward with its first resort projects and adventure parks in the locality.
Awakening Yen Bai’s potential
Dao Duc Long, director of Project Development at Minh Duc Green Tour JSC

Both Le Champ Tu Le Resort and Aeris Hill were launched just before and during the pandemic. How did the restrictions affect your plans?

It is true that when the two projects were put into operation the pandemic broke out, but we, like many tourism businesses at the time, thought the pandemic would end in only a few months. Every plan is elaborate in detail and the resources are also ready so there was no reason to stop. Our orientation from the beginning is also to focus on developing tourism products close to nature, in a new destination like Yen Bai.

Fortunately, when the pandemic took place, the trend of tourism also changed. Destinations that are still wild and close to nature are more popular with tourists. Except for the period of social distancing, the number of visitors to Le Champ Tu Le Resort and Aeris Hill adventure park, as well as other tourist destinations in Yen Bai, has increased.

Recently, we have combined with Savills Vietnam to carry out a survey, and the results show that despite being closed for six months, Yen Bai's tourist growth rate in 2020 increased by 9 per cent and by 5 per cent last year.

Why did you decide to invest in developing large-scale projects in Yen Bai in particular?

If we were ordinary investors, we would not choose to build this product in the mountainous district of Van Chan of Yen Bai province, because tourism here is still underdeveloped, traffic is not really convenient, and many risks will arise. This not only causes investment costs to be incurred but even operating costs are much higher because the company has to hire more employees from other places to work because local human resources cannot meet all requests.

But from an economic point of view, the higher the risk, the higher the return. When monitoring the growth of Yen Bai tourism in recent years, although there have been very few large investors, the tourism industry still increased steadily each year from 20-40 per cent in the period before the pandemic.

Comparing this data with other famous destinations such as Nha Trang, Danang, or Sapa at similar times, I see the potential of Yen Bai tourism is not inferior. Sapa, before Sun Group invested in Fansipan Legend, saw a growth rate of only 15 per cent; after that project was completed, it skyrocketed to 40 per cent. Other destinations are similar, which means that any land with investment can grow.

On the other hand, I also realise the potential for year-round tourism development in Yen Bai. From November to March every year, Yen Bai has a fairly regular number of inbound visitors, while June to August is the time to welcome domestic tourists to experience the pouring water season and September to October is the peak season of the province with many festivals and special experiences in the ripe rice season. The quietest period of Yen Bai tourism will fall from April to May, but this time there is a holiday at the end of April which usually lasts a few days, and so still has the opportunity to welcome guests.

The potential is already available; the problem is to create more tourist attractions so that visitors who come here at any time will have a place to visit and play. This prompted us to decide to continue investing in Aeris Hill, in addition to existing products such as Le Champ Tu Le and another 5-star resort in the process of being completed in Mu Cang Chai.

From an investor's point of view, the real reason why we started doing it was the love of the land where many generations of my family have lived and grown up. I look forward to contributing to this land.

What are the reasons for building an adventure park and not a more traditional tourist product?

When Le Champ Tu Le started operating, we conducted a survey of visitors coming here and received feedback that although Le Champ is beautiful, it still lacks attractions for visitors, especially groups. We started to envision the idea of how to have a destination that serves a large number of ordinary visitors.

We have the advantage of landscape and weather, so at first there was hesitation in building check-in points such as flower gardens. I found these points are only seasonal, suitable for taking photos for a short time in the summer, but not bringing many experiences to remember for a long time.

Fate made me meet a partner who is a sports person and loves adventure games. When we went to visit the pine forest and found a beautiful area that was suitable for developing certain types of adventure activities, I began to imagine taking advantage of the terrain and landscape to build.

As a result, we now have the longest zipline in Vietnam and then came up with the idea to build an entire adventure park like today.

How can you increase competitiveness with products by major domestic and international brands?

When developing tourism, leaders of Yen Bai province and businesses like ours determined that regional links are key to creating package tourism products.

Yen Bai is building roads that cut from Noi Bai-Lao Cai highway to tourist destinations in Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai, contributing to the removal of traffic barriers.

Currently, there is a trend of shifting tourists from well-known destinations such as Sapa to nearby destinations such as Hoa Binh, Ha Giang, or Yen Bai, but none of these destinations has emerged completely. We are trying very hard to get that advantage.

We like to compare Yen Bai tourism to a princess still sleeping, we want to create the first rays of light to wake up and arouse this potential.

Talk show presents Vietnam's emerging tourism hotspots Talk show presents Vietnam's emerging tourism hotspots

What new destinations, products, and services does Vietnam's tourism offer? The talk show Emerging Hotspots for Eco-luxury & Experienced Tourism taking place on the afternoon of August 25 will discuss these points in-depth and offer insights into the reviving sector.

By Hoang Oanh

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