Vietnam’s Potential in Tourism
Vietnam’s potential in tourism, Vietnam has more than 3,200 km of coast line with many beautiful dreamlike beaches in Nha Trang, Da Nang and Phu Quoc island. However, the number of tourists to Vietnam as a whole is just equal to the number of tourists to Pattaya, a tourism point of Thailand. What should Vietnam do to catch up with Thailand?
VietNamNet talked with TJ Grundl-Hong, Chief Sales Officer & MD Business Development of Six Senses, specializing in managing resorts in many countries in the world, which is now managing three resorts in Vietnam, namely Ana Mandara Nha Trang, Ninh Van Bay and Da Lat. Mr TJ Grundl-Hong has the experience of 20 years working in rehabilitation tourism management, including five years in Thailand and six years in Vietnam.
With your Knowledge about Thailand and Vietnam, could you please comment about the tourism industry of the two countries in the past, present and future?
Thailand’s tourism industry is 20 years in advance of Vietnam’s, and the country’s tourism industry develops well thanks to good aviation, which can provide diversified flight schedules with different air carriers. Meanwhile, Thailand always gets ready to make heavy investment to develop its tourism industry.
Vietnam in the past, and even nowadays, does not have the said three factors. Vietnam’s tourism was born later than Thailand’s, the aviation industry has not developed yet, while the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has not made appropriate investment to promote tourism.
However, Vietnam is now considered by international tourists as the new destination of the world, which could be seen as a big advantage for Vietnam. The number of tourists travel to Thailand is always higher than Vietnams, but if considering the growth rate, the index of Vietnam is higher than Thailand. Vietnam’s tourism may develop well if there is the effective cooperation among aviation, hotel and tourism services.
Ana Mandara is now managing resorts in Phukhet and Nha Trang. Could you make any comparison between Phukhet and Nha Trang?
I think that aviation plays a very important role in developing tourism. In Phukhet, one flight is provided for every 30 minutes. Many big brand names of hotels have been in Phukhet already. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, there are very few domestic flights. Nha Trang still does not have the airport near the city (the Cam Ranh airport is 40 km far from the city, but just provides a sparse flight schedule).
I think Nha Trang Vietnam has only made use of 20% of its resources for development, and the city will become the famous tourism point in South East Asia in five or seven years thanks to its advantage of having a high population. Vietnamese people like doing business in their homeland, while Phukhet does not have many local residents, which would badly affect the labour force and high-grade staffs.
We are now planning to develop our business in Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands, but we still face the problems with high grade employees. The hotel management requires good and experienced managers, while the localities actually lack staffs.
As far as I know, the number of tourists to Pattaya alone is equal to the number of tourists to Vietnam in a whole. What would you say about this?
Pattaya is too polluted and noisy. The turnover from tourism in Pattaya is now good, but it would not be good in the future. Vietnam needs some more time to develop, and it will grow in five or ten more years. The Government should keep control over tourism development to avoid spontaneous and unplanned development. The most important thing is that Vietnam needs to make heavier investment in promoting tourism.
What do you think about rehabilitation tourism, about the competitiveness in this field?
Vietnam has 3,200 km of coastal line, but there are not many sea tourism points. I think Vietnam has used up to 10% of its total sea space only, as many provinces have beautiful beaches which have been left not fully exploited. Therefore, the potentials for rehabilitation prove to be very big. As planned, we will have six resorts in Vietnam. However, what worries us most is the lack of qualified staffs.
Regarding the competition, I know that at least 5-6 groups and international resort managers plan to enter Vietnam, they are eyeing the central region, from Da Nang, and Hoi An Vietnam to the south.
Who are the main clients of Ana Mandara? Foreign groups always bring know how and technologies when arriving in Vietnam. What are the most important factors for you to consider when deciding to develop a tourism project?
They come there mainly to get rehabilitation or learn about Vietnam’s culture. They may be the tourists who have been to many South East Asian countries and now want to discover the new things in Vietnam. Most of them are high grade clients with more than 90% of them being foreigners, the potential clients for Vietnam’s tourism for the next few years.
We always consider two factors when deciding to develop resorts in localities: beautiful beaches and a big enough land fund.