The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

January 20, 2023 | 17:00
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Tourism leaders share with VIR their new products, services, and bespoke experiences for Vietnam Tourism Year 2023.
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism
Oliver Horn - General manager InterContinental Long Beach Phu Quoc
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“We’ve focused across all of our services and outlets”

In recent years, the domestic market has been playing an increasingly important role, giving us the incentive to sharpen our services to fit local travel expectations, while conveying our legacy of refined elegance and worldly travel. When looked at regionally, the picture is of an industry close to full recovery, and we are pleased to welcome lots of guests from Asian countries, especially South Korea, Australia, Singapore, and India – one of the fastest emerging markets throughout 2022.

From early this year, the demand from the US and Europe, particularly Britain and Germany, has surged, and we are confident that it will soon return to pre-pandemic levels.

Vietnam has been long renowned as the haven of diverse culinary themes, from tempting street food to traditional dishes from each province. You will find at least 2-3 signature dishes in each of our destinations throughout the country. We take pride in featuring the iconic flavours and textures of the emerald Phu Quoc island through our local traditions and recipes honed over generations while putting a fresh twist on them, from the signature Phu Quoc seafood salad to the tasty grilled mountain chicken, and the crafted sips inspired by the story of the island's landmarks.

Wellness is also an area that we’ve focused on across all of our services, outlets, and spa, as physical and mental wellbeing continue to be at the forefront. We have forged remarkable craftsmanship in the amenities, outlets, and our awarded Harnn Heritage spa that add value to our guest experiences.

In the new year, the industry continues to make a strong recovery. With more and more Asian countries opening up their borders alongside the bounce back of the US and European markets, we have a strong belief that the demand will reach previous heights.

Therefore, we have crafted various packages customised for each market based on the market’s demands and interests, from an all-inclusive package offering a whole-day meal plan and airport transportation, to seasonal packages to capture the travelling demands during peak season.

Akshay Moza - VP of Commercial The Grand Ho Tram Strip
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“Wellness has become a massive trend in travel”

The slow reopening of key tourism markets like China and Russia and visa hassles are the greatest challenges to recovery. The government should look into granting visas and waiving visa requirements for people from more countries and extend visa-free stays, which eventually will attract countless visitors to the country. Even though Vietnam was one of the first countries to open in 2022 but are way behind their Southeast Asian counterparts due to visa regulations.

We foresee India becoming the top focus markets for Vietnam’s tourism industry. Vietnam is also in the travel bucket list for tourists from source markets like Australia, North America, Europe, and Taiwan.

In 2023, we expect more long-haul business, and a higher percentage of North and South American businesses. The South Korean market could return to pre-pandemic levels in the middle of 2023, and the Chinese/Japanese markets not long after.

Many interesting services will be offered in including city tours, adventure experiences, eco-tours, and more to highlight the true uniqueness of Vietnam.

We have come up with a variety of promotions, such as luxury suite promotions, half board packages, golf packages, and family packages. With The Bluffs (our esteemed 18 hole golf course) we are offering play-and-stay packages which attract not only domestic but also our expat markets, catering to all markets (families, golfers, casino players, couples, business groups, friends travelling together). Complimentary shuttle services between Ho Chi Minh City and The Grand Ho Tram.

Wellness has become a massive trend in travel and Vietnam is following environmental wellness seriously. We at Ho Tram are expecting local authorities and many parties to join us in promoting Vietnam along these lines. Vietnam plans for the country to be carbon-neutral by 2050, so it is great to promote products, properties, and destinations.

Vietnam offers a wide range of hospitality services and many must-see natural wonders, whether it is the outdoors from Halong Bay with its magnificent views and tranquillity, or the enormous and mesmerising caves of Phong Nha, or Sapa with the highest peak in Southeast Asia and exquisite surrounding, or just a beach retreat outside Ho Chi Minh City along Ho Tram.

For cultural experiences, we offer authentic artistic, historical, natural, and social heritage initiatives. There is a focus on beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches, local culture such as fishing village life and fresh seafood markets in Ho Tram.

Steve Raymond - Owner representative Pandanus Resort
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“People are anxious to travel after years of restrictions”

We are not quite sure what to expect in 2023. It is very difficult to predict how the hotel and hospitality industry will do this year. In order to make an accurate forecast, one would normally use the arrivals from the previous 1-2 years as a guide.

However, the usual rules no longer seem to apply, and last year was a perfect example of this conundrum. Last year we thought that tourism would bounce back rapidly because people would be anxious to travel. We believed that there was no need to ‘dump’ or even lower rates because we expected that many tourists would arrive in Phan Thiet, eager to get away from home.

Unfortunately, we did not know at that time about the perfect storm of factors that would combine to make both the Pandanus and Vietnam fail to achieve our foreign tourism targets. Visitor numbers were lower than expected, visa issues persist, China remained closed off, and the Ukraine conflict has had a massive knock-on effect around the world.

The Pandanus Resort never closed and we always had guests in house. Once the lockdown in 2021 ended, we were able to make up for the dearth of foreign guests with the local corporate market.

Unable to travel overseas, the managers and owners of many companies in Ho Chi Minh City decided to come to the Pandanus for their corporate meetings and team building events because we have a large conference centre. That kept the resort busy and made it profitable all year. In the last three months of the year, just as the foreign market has begun to return, the number of Vietnamese groups has declined, mostly because they are now able to travel to other countries.

So, although we are unable to accurately predict what will happen this year, our expectation is that the foreign market will continue to slowly return, and the number of Vietnamese coming to Pandanus will continue to grow. How fast that growth will be depends largely on the date that the expressway from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet is completed.

When foreigners travel to Vietnam, I would suggest that they experience the diversity that the country provides. The best way to do that would be for tourists to travel to as many of the country’s provinces as possible, stay in as many types of accommodations as they can, and eat as much Vietnamese food as their stomachs can handle.

Julian Wong - General manager Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“Business tourism looks very promising in 2023”

The events and meetings industry looks very promising in 2023, especially for Ho Chi Minh City – with larger sized international groups of 150-300 rooms, from longer haul feeder markets as opposed to mainly regional group movements this year. We are preparing our meetings industry offerings in anticipation of this trend. From a leisure standpoint, we anticipate traditional regional key source markets such as Japan and South Korea to ramp up by the second quarter of the year.

India is also an emerging market with the current expansion of direct flights between India and Vietnam, and the increasing demand for close destinations with easy visa-obtained process. With the recent announcement by the Chinese government to reopen its borders, China will once again emerge as a dominant source market for both leisure and business travels by the second half of next year.

International travellers are very keen in exploring the local culture by the local ways. Half-day city tour, Vespa tour, jeep tour, and double-decker bus tours are always top options. Within the city’s outskirts, we have the scenic Mekong Delta Tour and the historical Cu Chi tunnels, among others.

Another emerging niche segment is food tours for food lovers. Vietnam is world renowned for its ubiquitous street food with many of these cuisines being highlighted by global news such as CNN and I’m sure many foreigners will love to sample these delicacies and experience the local culture.

Michael Wirz - Resort manager Zannier Hotel Bai San Ho
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“Vietnam is blessed with an abundance of local produce”

The last two years have brought a variety of challenges but also forced hospitality business to re-consider how we conduct business in many ways. In 2022 it became clear that there is a shift in travel patterns and tourists are looking for experience-based, more sustainable travel options. As the inbound travel market is posed to recover further in 2023 we have high expectations for the coming year.

Phu Yen is a new destination on both the domestic and international travel maps, featuring a variety of intangible cultural heritage and vast natural landscape, making it the perfect location for relaxation and cultural enrichment away from the beaten tourist paths.

Vietnam is blessed with a strong domestic travel market compared to other Southeast Asian peers with a tremendous growth potential combined with the influx of international travel that is predicted, we expect 2023 to be positive in terms of recovery and growth in the hospitality industry.

Vietnam is blessed with an abundance of local produce and famed for its cuisine with its long coastline, and wide variety of fresh seafood a local family style dining experience including the catch of the day from the local market is a must-try. For the adventurous eaters, the local speciality, tuna eye, is an experience for all senses.

Besides the variety in local cuisine, the population is made up of 54 different ethnic groups, many of which have very distinct cultural elements, food, and lifestyles. For everyone willing to venture off the beaten path, a visit to some of the traditional villages in the central highland or coast regions will allow for some outstanding immersion.

Sriram Kailasam - General manager Regent Phu Quoc
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“A strong international campaign is critical”

Vietnam has done extremely well after opening its borders in April 2022. Although Vietnam has not seen the same level of surge as some of our neighbouring countries, it is only a matter of time. The policy of having Phu Quoc allowing some nationalities to get visa on arrival makes it an attractive proposition.

I believe that initiatives like this, combined with a strong international campaign promoting Vietnam tourism in international travel and trade, is critical for the growth of arrival numbers.

As a destination, it is critical that Phu Quoc leverages its UNESCO Eco-zone tag with activities and initiatives to let visitors immerse themselves in this experience. The island should focus on developing more green and eco-initiatives that will offer meaningful, relevant experiences. The provincial focus should be on natural resources of the island and its vast and beautiful coastline will distinguish Phu Quoc as a sustainable destination for all its stakeholders.

We are very fortunate to be at the beginning of Phu Quoc’s journey to be Vietnam’s most recognisable island destination. It is imperative that we keep Phu Quoc low density and high quality. In doing so, we will bring tremendous value to its people.

At Phu Quoc Marina, we are creating a service excellence culture for nearly 1,500 employees. Regent Phu Quoc employs nearly 500 of them. The stunning design and views of the rooms and pool villas is a must-try if you visit the island. Oku, our French-influenced Japanese Omakase restaurant, is getting critical acclaim and is highly recommended regardless of whether you are staying at the Regent or not.

We opened our doors to guests in April 2022, as the first Regent resort property in Southeast Asia, underlined by award winning design by Blink Design. The destination and the resort have benefitted from a large coverage internationally and local press as well as KOL’s to showcase our “savoir faire”.

With a strong pipeline of openings in coming years across the globe, the Regent brand will continue to strengthen its awareness. From January, we have been launching special offers on our room rates for Lunar New Year for IHG One Rewards members and also non-members.

Jimmy Lopez - Hotel manager Hoiana Resort & Golf
The rejuvenation of nation’s tourism

“Hoteliers will have to propose unique offerings”

We are cautiously optimistic about 2023 as Vietnam continues to rebuild its tourism industry, but it requires every stakeholder’s commitment to accelerate growth.

That is removing the remaining visa hurdles, increasing direct airlift to Danang for inbound visitors and for “Brand Vietnam” to have a stronger global presence.

With a mere 8 million foreign visitors targeted in 2023, hoteliers will have to propose unique experiences to attract oversea visitors to their properties.

On the domestic front, we have acquired a robust understanding of the local market’s aspirations and will continue to leverage on our remarkable facilities and exceptional service delivery to ensure we remain top of mind for our existing customers within Vietnam and entice new ones.

Being the only integrated beachfront resort on central Vietnam, with 3 distinctive hotels within our complex, we have a multitude of offerings that appeal to everyone. Our “one stop shop” approach allows us to satisfy every guest’s needs whilst staying at Hoiana Resort & Golf.

From priority access to our award-winning golf course to 4km pristine beach front featuring plenty of water activities and multiple cuisine styles offerings to one of the best kid-club in the country, there is something for every individual. We are conveniently located away from the city so that guests can truly unwind and disconnect from their demanding schedules, yet the lively iconic Hoi An town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is only a 15 minute drive from the resort.

In 2023 our focus continues to enrich the lives of our guests. We bring unique culturally charged offers such as “Hoiana Discovery”, combining premium stay, signature dining, and includes complimentary shuttle bus service to discover Vietnam heritage in Hoi An or a “Tet staycation”, blending relaxation activities, entertainment, and local cuisine during Lunar New Year.

The team crafted a very comprehensive activities calendar for 2023 and members of our newly re-launched “Hoiana Premium Reward will be given priority access and preferred benefits to enjoy them all.

By VIRRP

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