Luxury travel taking shape in Viet Nam
08:29 | 18/02/2013

VGP - On February 12, the third day of the Lunar New Year, the four-star ship Volendam of Holland - American Lines has just docked at Nha Trang Port in Khanh Hoa, bringing 1,400 tourists and 900 crewmembers with the very first new year greetings to Viet Nam.

Dutch cruise ship, Volendam docks at Nha Trang city - Photo: VNA

Earlier on January 7, the five-star cruise ship Costa Victoria of Costa Crociere S.p.A also docked at Hiep Phuoc Port in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), taking tourists on a four-day trans-Viet Nam trip through HCMC, Da Nang and Ha Long.

The 2,400 tourists and crewmembers of the world standard cruise ship mainly come from Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. According to Saigontourist, after this year’s first journey to Viet Nam, Costa Victoria will return four more times and dock at ports in Ha Long and Da Nang.

Besides Costa Crociere S.p.A, Saigontourist Travel will continue to welcome luxury ships of Star Cruises company to Viet Nam under the new cooperation program from November 2012 to April 2013, with a total of 90 visits, expected to bring more than 130,000 passengers and crewmembers.

These cruise ships are excellent examples of lavish travel, a growing part of the tourism sector in recent years in Viet Nam, but just a portion of the millions of international tourists coming to Viet Nam every year.

With increasing income, more and more people are demanding luxury travel experiences instead of conventional economic tours.

According to Pham Ha, chief executive and founder of Luxury Travel, Viet Nam’s first luxury tour and travel operator and most successful luxury travel brand, the company served more than 3,000 high-end travelers to Viet Nam among 10,000 travelers in Indochina in 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, French Minister, Oman Royal Family and Ministers of Oman and ambassadors of many countries were among the VIP guests of the company.

As Pham revealed, cost of an average lavish tour ranges from US$2,500 to US$3,500 per person for a seven-day tour. Many of these tours are priced at over US$1,000/day/visitor.

In 2013 Luxury Travel expects a 30% growth in terms of turnover. “High-end travelers still have money and time, they can travel even during the financial crisis,” said Pham.

The services are often linked with MICE tourism which involves the organization of Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions, serving customers who come to Viet Nam for business but would like to enlist their time for some exquisite travel.

As the MICE “tigers” of Southeast Asia such as Singapore or Malaysia have exposed thoroughly their venue capacity and Indochinese countries of Laos and Cambodia still embrace their potentials, Viet Nam is becoming the MICE hub of Asia for both regional and global MICE visitors.

In late December 2012, Luxury Travel also announced its top five high-end travel trends in the Viet Nam tourism industry in 2013 including multi-generational family travel, wellness and spa, active vacations and customized travel.

In recent years Viet Nam has begun to catch up Wellness and spa innovation, embracing spa culture with a wide selection of resorts and day spas that are equal to any in the world. Many world class golf courses were recently opened, making Viet Nam a golf destination of the world.

Remarkably, Da Nang Golf Club has been ranked top 15 golf courses in the world in 2010 by the U.S. Golf Magazine, one of the world's most famous golf publications. In 2011, Da Nang Golf Club was also honored as “The best new golf course in Asia-Pacific” in the Golf Asia in ceremony.

According to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), although experiencing a turbulent year with economic difficulties, the Vietnamese tourism industry still achieved positive results with 6.8 million international arrivals in 2012, an increase of nearly 14% compared to 2011.

In terms of travel purposes, in 2012, 14% more visitors came to Viet Nam for tourism and leisure and 16% more visited Viet Nam for business, compared to 2011.

Viet Nam has been raved for bearing the beauty of a miscellaneous destination with many UNESCO-recognized cultural and natural heritage sites.

In early December 2012, the travel and tourism professional association United States Tour Operators Association voted Viet Nam the 2nd most popular emerging destination in 2013, topped by Myanmar and followed by India and Peru.

Meanwhile, Ha Noi and Hoi An ancient town in the central province of Quang Nam continued to be named among the top ten destinations in Asia 2012 by Hong Kong-based travel and trade journal, Smart Travel Asia. Ha Noi remained in sixth position while Hoi An was rated seventh.

Luxury travel expert Pham Ha suggested that VNAT should create a luxury travel department, encourage tour operators to create high end, niche products for luxury travelers or forecast tourism trends to guide them to deliver the right products.

Pham also called for more travel show participation and for four, five-star hotels to be rated correctly by international standards and norms.

For 2013, the director of Luxury travel projected: “We are seeing interests in the An Lam Ninh Van Bay villas near Nha Trang, Hyatt Regency Da Nang, Intercontinental Da Nang Resort, Fusion Maia Resort Hoi An, Ana Mandara Hue,”

“The next upcoming destination in Viet Nam is the archipelago of Con Dao where Six Senses has developed a resort. It is a 45 minute flight from HCMC and offers the most beautiful islands and settings in Viet Nam.” said Pham.

Lavish tourism may account for a small market share but is a profitable sector. Nowadays, luxury tourism is all about experiences, privacy, intimacy and uniqueness. High-end travelers expect to “enjoy a program that gets them off the tourist trail and into the real Viet Nam.”

Capturing Viet Nam’s tourism potentials, in the Strategy on Viet Nam’s tourism development until 2020, vision to 2030, the country focuses on planning and investing in the development of tourism regions, national tourism sites, attractions and urban areas; especially urban tourism, MICE tourism, culture and history exploration, marine ecological and resort tourism.

The Government also plans to develop the technical infrastructure system that ensures quality, modern, convenient and uniform tourism services and facilities, to meet the needs of tourists.

“Such a system includes tourist attractions, accommodations, restaurants, information service, travel advice, booking and reservation service, travel agents, tour operators, tour guides, vehicles and transport service establishments for tourists, service facilities for sightseeing, leisure, entertainment, sports, conference and other purposes.” the Strategy reads./.

By Thuy Linh

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