How strategic investment transforms Vietnam’s tourism landscape

May 02, 2019 | 17:49
In recent years, a number of new, outstanding tourism projects have boosted the appeal of both established and emerging destinations in Vietnam, drawing in more international visitors and boosting domestic tourism.
how strategic investment transforms vietnams tourism landscape
Sun Group's cable car system transformed tourism in Sapa

Elevating the ‘roof of Indochina’

For many years, Sapa in Lao Cai province had been a gateway town to the north of Vietnam – a heavenly realm of stunning mountains and lush valleys. The most intrepid of travellers came to conquer Fansipan Mountain, also known as the “Roof of Indochina.”

At a height of 3,143 metres, scaling the precipitous slopes of Fanispan – a national symbol of Vietnam – to reach the peak was a two-day expedition that could only be undertaken by those in good health.

However, in February 2016 this changed overnight with the opening of a three-rope cable car system that could take visitors from the centre of Sapa to the peak of Fansipan in less than 20 minutes. Developed to the tune of thousands of billion dongs by Sun Group, Vietnam’s premier developer of luxury resorts, entertainment, and leisure complexes, the cable-car system transformed the tourism experience for visitors to Sapa.

Stretching 6,292.5 metres (making it the world’s longest non-stop three-rope cable car system in the world) and with a capacity to take 2,000 tourists per hour up a breath-taking 1,410m elevation, riding in the cabin is exhilarating with astounding views of the Hoang Lien mountain range as well as the gorgeous terraced rice fields, valleys, and villages where hill tribes still thrive today.

Adding further appeal to Sapa, there is also a new complex of spiritual buildings and shrines at the very top of Fansipan, also developed by Sun Group as part of Sun World Fansipan Legend.

how strategic investment transforms vietnams tourism landscape
The spiritual building on top of Fansipan Mountain

Once a sleepy town, now Sapa is buzzing with tourists. In 2016, Lao Cai province welcomed 2.7 million tourist arrivals, generating VND6.405 trillion ($278.5 million) in revenue.

In 2017, there were 3.5 million visitors, generating VND9.443 trillion ($410.6 million) in revenue, accounting for 121 per cent of the year’s target, and a growth of 23.7 per cent compared to the previous year.

In 2018, the number of tourists coming to Sapa town alone reached 3.2 million, more than twice the number recorded in 2014 when 1.74 million tourists visited.

A new dawn for travel and leisure in Halong

Sun Group has also directed strategic investment toward Quang Ninh province in the northeast of Vietnam. In 2015, over 7.7 million tourist arrivals visited Quang Ninh – home to Halong Bay, a Unesco World Heritage – generating VND6.548 trillion ($284.7 million) in revenue. By the end of 2018, there were 12.2 million visitors with revenue from tourism exceeding VND24 trillion ($1.04 billion).

One of the main factors behind this spike in tourism is another of Sun Group’s major developments, Sun World Halong Complex, an entertainment complex that opened right by the Gulf of Tonkin in 2016. Featuring three parks, including the complex of Queen Cable Car, Sun Wheel, and Zen Garden in Ba Deo top, Dragon Theme Park, and Typhoon Water Park, Sun World Halong Complex has added to Halong’s appeal as a tourism destination.

During the summer months, the occupancy rate of hotels near the amusement parks is usually between 90 and 100 per cent. While previously visitors may have spent just one afternoon to sail around Halong Bay, now there is much more on offer to keep families and groups entertained.

how strategic investment transforms vietnams tourism landscape
Sun World Halong Complex is now a popular enterntainment area drawing in visitors from across the globe

“It is evident that the entertainment venues and amusement parks developed by Sun Group have contributed to improving the image of Quang Ninh and brought many new tourism attractions to the province,” says Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of the Quang Ninh Tourism Department.

In general, the transformation of tourist destinations – thanks to the strategic investment of Sun Group – has contributed positively to the tourism landscape throughout Vietnam. The group has developed major tourism projects in Phu Quoc and Danang, two of the country’s leading destinations.

In 2007, Vietnam only welcomed about 4.2 million international visitors generating a revenue of VND56 trillion (2.4 billion). However, by 2017, in only 10 years, Vietnam had become one of the world’s 10 fastest-growing tourist destinations based on international arrivals.

how strategic investment transforms vietnams tourism landscape
Sun Group was honoured at the Vietnam Tourism Awards 2018

Honours at Vietnam Tourism Awards

It is notable that the Vietnam Tourism Awards 2018 honoured many of the leading enterprises that have made a significant contribution to the development of tourism in Vietnam, including Sun Group, Vingroup, Thien Minh, FLC, and Muong Thanh.

Speaking at the ceremony, Nguyen Van Tuan, former general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said: “In the past six years, Vietnamese tourism has made great progress in attracting tourists and investment, improving infrastructure, developing tourism products and services, and policy changes, which has boosted tourism property development. In particular, the most prominent factor behind these accomplishments has been the large-scale projects and high-quality, attractive tourism products invested by strategic investors and top tourism businesses. These investment projects have contributed to improving infrastructure and accommodation, and created luxury tourism products that can gradually contribute to the shaping of Vietnam’s tourism brand as well as the attractiveness of destinations in Vietnam.”

Tuan added that strategic investors have been the game-changers in promoting destinations and changing the face of the region. “In Bai Chay, Halong, for instance, the launching of major projects invested by Sun Group not only creates excitement but also generates a spill-over effect with higher occupancy and prices for hotel rooms. It also helps to stimulate the production, distribution, and circulation of goods, and brings other major benefits to residential communities, for example, restaurant owners, shopkeepers, and even motorbike taxi drivers or street vendors,” he said.

In wholehearted agreement, Le Cong Nang, head of the Marketing and Communications Department of Vietrantour emphasised: “The significant investment from giant corporations into tourism infrastructure, recreational facilities, and tourism development in key destinations such as Sapa, Halong, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon, and Danang has helped travel agencies to manage their tours more effectively, enhance service quality, and attract tourists to these destinations. In addition, the construction projects by strategic investors, especially Sun Group, are all large-scale, high-quality, and outstanding in their field. This increases the capacity and attractiveness of tourist destinations.”

It is clear that tourism is fast becoming a key economic sector of Vietnam. While there are many challenges regarding its continuing development, there are also opportunities at every turn. Aiming for a shared goal with government leaders to transform the country’s tourism landscape, strategic investors like Sun Group have taken the lead in transforming Vietnam into one of the world’s most exciting destinations.

By Tuan Khanh

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