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In January 2018 international tourist arrivals have risen a massive 144% compared to January 2017. In a rather fated fashion, Khanh Hoa Province is scheduled to host the National Tourism Year event in 2019. Foreign and local investment is also growing alarmingly, properties surrounding Ma Thanh Stadium in Phuoc Hoa district has seen growths of almost double between the beginning of 2017 and the start of 2018, rising from an average of 35 million VND per m² to approximately 70 million VND per m².
Condotels and Chinese Tourism Continue to Rise
Condotels have become a formidable market in a crossover between real estate and tourism. Nha Trang, a beautiful beach city with sprawling sand, has not been spared. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction, approximately 28,000 apartments planned for 2017-2019 fall into the condotel category, with most of the growth taking place in Da Nang and Nha Trang.
Image source: vinpearlcondotel.com
The noticeable presence of mainland Chinese tourists has become crucial for local resorts, hotels and businesses, with arrivals in 2017 from China increasing a stunning 400% over 2016. Nha Trang has become a bookmarked budget beach heaven for many Chinese travellers hailing from landlocked provinces where sea and sand are a treasured sight. Reports of inaccuracies in historical introductions given to Chinese tourists by unlicensed translators have spurred local authorities to conduct enhanced retrainings for interpreters at important sites such as the famous Po Nagar Cham Towers.
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According to the Khanh Hoa Department of Culture, numerous shops that are specifically geared towards Chinese and Russian tour groups were disobeying local laws where it is decreed that foreign languages displayed on business signages should not form a majority of the complete text and where it should preferably be in small print alongside Vietnamese text.
We asked Mr Remi Faubel, General Manager of Novotel Nha Trang, about these developments.
“The authorities are doing a good job and taking action to change them. They removed those signs! You have to propose your own ads first [and let] the authorities check them and before you can produce them.”
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I asked whether developments in beautiful, neighbouring Cam Ranh Bay would affect Nha Trang’s popularity. In May 2018 Cam Ranh Bay was named by popular travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler (cntraveler.com) as one of best seven places to visit, alongside goliaths including Paris, Sicily and San Francisco.
Mr Faubel was optimistic that both locations were complementary and co-existed synergistically in the local tourism context.
“Things are bigger in Nha Trang for sure! More space and more projects.”
“Cam Ranh and Nha Trang are different. People visit for different reasons, they are not competitors. Nha Trang is good for entertainment and shopping. Cam Ranh is far away from the buzz… people visit to relax, especially Westerners.” Mr Faubel explained.
At the same time, numerous smaller islets and atolls are being rediscovered by tourists while the main stretch of beach along the main road of Tran Phu is becoming increasingly over-saturated by beachgoers.
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“Hotels on the main street Tran Phu are doing very well... mostly international brands, we have the awareness and that attracts a good mix of guest. It’s becoming quite hard to cross Tran Phu street these days!” he explained. “Because of all those coaches and large tour buses.”
The new international terminal at Cam Ranh Airport is now open and local authorities are being motivated to enhance key infrastructural needs to handle the increasing tourist arrivals. Cam Ranh Airport is close to both Cam Ranh Bay and Nha Trang and serves both destinations.
Mr Faubel also hopes to see a more balanced mix of nationalities.
“Most hotel owners don’t really care about the nationality of their guests. Some don’t mind lowering the rates to attract large tour groups. To be honest, we welcome them from a business point of view. However, local Vietnamese are being discouraged to come as they are starting to view us as a ‘Chinese city’. But with the new airport, we can mix the market a little. Europeans, Koreans, Japanese.”
New routes that have been scheduled alongside the opening of the new terminal will connect Cam Ranh Airport directly to Singapore, Thailand and Japan via regular flights.
Perhaps for Nha Trang, the skies are literally the limit.
Video source: Phan Vu
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