Following a record year of expansion in Vietnam, Jakob Helgen, Marriott International area vice president for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, discussed Vietnamese tourism in 2023.
What will Marriott do to boost the business of existing hotels?
Marriott International is optimistic about the recovery of travel and tourism in Vietnam. We witnessed a gradual return of demand in 2022, first to our city hotels and then moving into resort destinations. As a result, our average room rate for the fourth quarter of last year was close to 2019 levels, and we expect to see continued growth this year. This outlook will be strengthened with the expansion of fight capacity.
|Jakob Helgen, Marriott International area vice president for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar |
Marriott currently operates 16 hotels and resorts in Vietnam, following last year's record expansion when we launched six new hotels and added two new brands in the country, the Autograph Collection in Ho Chi Minh City and our flagship Marriott Hotels' brand in Danang. We also expect to launch Vietnam’s inaugural Westin resort in Cam Ranh soon.
Our business in Vietnam is driven by the success of Marriott Bonvoy, our worldwide travel programme which now has more than 176 million members. Across Asia Pacific, approximately 50 per cent of our in-house guests are Marriott Bonvoy members. Through our global sales and marketing platforms, we are able to promote our hotels and resorts here and remind travellers of the many wonders of Vietnam as a destination.
The domestic sector continues to be a key priority for us in Vietnam. Rising affluence and accessibility is driving strong demand from our local markets. Looking ahead, we will concentrate on driving domestic business through hyper-localised strategies, including through our newly launched Vietnamese language website.
|Rising affluence and accessibility is driving strong demand from our local markets. Looking ahead, we will concentrate on driving domestic business through hyper-localised strategies, including through our newly launched Vietnamese language website. |
What predictions is Marriott making about the domestic market?
The domestic market is a priority for Marriott International in Vietnam. This year has already seen a strong start, with nine million people travelling during the week of the Lunar New Year, up 47.5 per cent on-year.
We expect to witness high-demand during peak holiday periods in popular leisure destinations such as Danang, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, and we will also pay special attention to up-and-coming destinations such as Lang Son, Can Tho and Haiphong as we consider the future expansion of our Vietnamese portfolio.
Local events and weddings are also set to rebound strongly in 2023, following the restrictions of previous years. Marriott will work closely with national and local tourism authorities to attract domestic guests and convention planners back to our destinations this year.
What is the key factor that will attract more international travellers to Vietnam? Which markets will be the top drivers for Vietnamese tourism in 2023?
We believe that Vietnam has the perfect blend of natural and cultural assets to attract international travellers. Furthermore, we welcome any news of the government supporting the travel industry, which makes it easier to travel to Vietnam. We will continue to look at primary markets such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, and China this year.
In addition to the visa policy, we urge the Vietnamese government to look into increasing flight capacity. While this is improving, we believe that there is an urgent need to increase airlift from all major international source markets to fully realise the potential of Vietnam’s tourism recovery. The combination of an extended visa exemption period and greater flight capacity will enable even more visitors to experience the wonders of Vietnam in 2023 and beyond.
According to Marriott, are Vietnamese tourism products attractive and diverse enough to entice tourists to Vietnam and ensure their return? Besides the numbers of premium and luxury hotels and resorts, can Marriott give some examples of some outstanding and unique Vietnamese tourism products that have impressed you?
As mentioned previously, Vietnam has the perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage that travellers dream of. From the beautiful beaches of the south to the rolling hills of the north, the vibrant streets of cities such as Ho Cho Minh City and the elegant charm of heritage sites like Hoi An, there really is something for everyone in Vietnam. This is matched by a wonderful year-round climate and one of the world’s most appetising cuisines. Vietnam has strong potential to become a leading force in global tourism.
Aside from its natural and cultural attractions, Vietnam has strong potential to develop its meetings and events industry. Many cities have hosted major international events in recent years and this is a key sector that needs to be capitalised upon.
There is also potential to expand Vietnam’s tourism map to new areas, such as Cam Ranh, Can Tho and the Mekong Delta in the south and the mountains of Lang Son in the north. These areas have many attractive factors but are largely overlooked by international visitors. We look forward to promoting these up-and-coming destinations and reassuring travellers that they can enjoy international standard accommodation and facilities during their trip.
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By Hong Nhung