Land Your Dream Job at an International School in Saigon

By: John Mark Harrell

Make sure you get the right teaching credentials.

Is it best to get experience at home or abroad?

Teachers must be committed for the long haul.

For foreign teachers committed to advancing their careers, working in top-notch facilities, and enjoying some of the best benefits of any professional field in Vietnam, working at international schools in Saigon is the number one choice. These highly-coveted jobs can be notoriously difficult to pin down, as international schools tend to have some of the most rigorous hiring standards of any educational institutions in Vietnam.

Working at International SchoolsImage source: googleusercontent.com

International schools typically have a much more demanding schedule than teaching positions at public schools and language centers. You can expect to work from 7 am to 5 pm every weekday, in addition to occasional weekend obligations like school ceremonies and parent-teacher meetings. Though you do have paid holidays, they tend to be fixed within the academic schedule, and most international schools are not flexible with unpaid time off. International schools are for teachers who are committed for the long haul, and who are able to not only engage their students with excellent learner-centered teaching, but act as a liaison between the school and the parents as well.

So what specific qualities do international schools look for in prospective hires? There are three key areas that International Schools focus on—and they are the criteria you should meet if you want to dramatically improve your chances of getting hired. Candidates must have solid credentials, a solid teaching experience background, and a culturally-sensitive air of professionalism and commitment.

Working at International SchoolsImage source: ISHCMC

If you’re keen on teaching at an international school but don’t feel confident you’ll meet their rigorous standards, don’t worry! This article will tell you not only everything international schools look for in a candidate—but how to get the necessary experience and qualifications you need now, in order to get that dream job further down the line.

Teaching Credentials and Essential Qualifications

At a bare minimum, teachers interested in working at international schools should have a bachelor’s degree and an EFL teaching certificate like a TEFL or, better yet, a CELTA or DELTA. Increasingly, however, as more and more college graduates easily obtain EFL teaching certificates for the purpose of teaching and travelling, international schools prefer candidates who are fully certified to teach in their home countries.

Working at International SchoolsImage source: ttmadrid.com

The certification process, depending on your home country, can take anywhere from 6 months to a year, and usually requires a significant financial investment. However, certified teachers in Vietnam typically earn around VND 120 to 240 million more annually than their non-certified counterparts. If teaching is your long-term career, this is an investment that will, eventually, pay off. The certification process typically requires completion of courses and examinations in subjects ranging from literature to maths, and a set number of assessed and/or recorded teaching hours. There are numerous online institutions that allow you to complete your teaching certification abroad—but they still require on-site assessed teaching. International schools typically offer support for teachers in the process of acquiring their certification, so in most cases it’s possible to work and complete a teaching certification simultaneously.

Teaching Experience: At Home or Abroad?

Most international schools in Saigon require at least 3 years of prior teaching experience. However, candidates with teaching experience in their home countries are strongly preferred, and even required at some international schools in Vietnam. If you haven’t left your home country yet, this is an important factor to consider before making the big move. Your application will be strengthened by any teaching experience you have in your home country as well as abroad—and regardless of either, getting certified will put you ahead of most other candidates for consideration.

Working at International SchoolsImage source: cehs.unl.edu

Of course, good teaching references are important. Highlight any and all prior teaching experience, as well as specific coursework at your university that may be applicable to your teaching ability. Any teaching certificates and qualifications should be included. Be sure to describe your teaching methods and approach in your CV (i.e. for EFL teachers, most schools prefer a communicative, student-centered approach).

Professionalism and Long Term Commitment

International schools look to invest in their students and staff in the long-term. For that reason, many international schools require a 2-year full time contract from the start. This is a big commitment to make, and intentionally so—international schools aren’t interested in hiring backpackers that just want to make enough money to continue their travels. If your goal is to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for a short time as part of a broader travelling experience throughout Asia, you might be better off teaching at a language center or public schools.

Working at an international school requires a Monday-Friday and occasional weekend commitment for the entire school year. The intensity of the workload and the immersive academic environment means you won’t likely be able to go out or stay up late on weeknights. Though most of your work should be done during weekdays at school, exams and homework for your students may push your workload to after hours in order to meet deadlines.

Working at International SchoolsImage source: amazonaws.com

On the bright side, Vietnam’s academic year spans from August through May and sometimes up to early June. With a high salary and low cost of living, as well as contract completion bonuses and paid holidays, you should have plenty of time and money left over for travelling and vacation during the summer months. Some teachers opt to teach summer school during this time, which gives teachers the opportunity to make and save even more money during this time of year.

Before you consider a position at an international school, make sure you’re prepared for the kind of rigour and commitment that will be required of you on a daily basis. If you are passionate about teaching, committed to the long-term growth and well-being of your students, and want a position that will allow you to advance your career and become financially independent, a teaching job at an international school in Ho Chi Minh City could be the perfect fit for you.

Banner Image source: campbellsville.edu


Choosing the Right Web Design for Your Business

By: City Pass Guide

A website is the base for all online activities of your business. However, having a badly designed website can be worse than having no site at all. To maintain a successful online presence in Vietnam’s competitive environment, you need to adhere to the one and only commandment of design:

Form Follows Function

The online environment in Vietnam is often colourful, confusing, cluttered and chaotic. Don’t fall into that trap. To set up a profitable website for your business, you need to think about the purpose first. What do you want to use your website for? Or rather, what will your customers want to do on your website?

Case 1: My customers just want my contact information.

In theory, a Facebook profile is enough for this purpose, but your own digital business card looks more professional. And when you own your own domain name, you can and should use it for your email address.

 

Case 2: My customers want some information about my company and our products/services.

A small website with a short introduction and one page per service or product, held together by an easy-to-use navigation system, should be enough.

 

Case 3: I want to keep my customers up to date with promotions, events and company news.

This calls for a small content management system, or CMS. A CMS is where you log in and change pages or add new posts. Usually people have a section of fixed pages on their website and an extra “blog” section, where customers can follow their updates. This is the best option for restaurants.

Case 4: I want to sell my products online.

Shop plugins are available for every major CMS. These are easy to use, cheap and versatile. However, often it is not exactly what you imagine, remember that you can hire a developer to customise the product. Be careful! Customers are entering sensitive data like credit card information, so make sure the security is top-notch. Nothing ruins your online reputation faster than a security leak.

Case 5: I want to be Number One and dominate the search results.

Now we’re talking! The design still follows the function of your project, but create a code as slim as possible to make the pages load quickly and efficiently. It is also imperative to follow the prime online commandment here: Content is King. Effective SEO is necessary as well, to keep on top of Google.

In the past it was easy to fool search engines into ranking your site higher – all you had to do was list your keywords a hundred times per page. Nowadays, programs like Google are much smarter and spamming will harm your business beyond repair. Your only chance is to create content your visitors love to read and pass on to others. For quality content creation, you either have to be multi-talented, hire somebody, or buy content from a third party. But beware, many companies are still stuck in 2005 and will sell you generic content that gets you nowhere. Choose wisely!

 


Tips on Starting a Business in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Whether you want to start an LLC, JSC, franchise or any other sort of local entity in HCMC, there are myriad problems – from cultural precautions to transparency to taxes – that ultimately drive away the uninitiated.

How do you even begin to enter this exciting, yet wild territory?

LLC or JSC?

For the purposes of brevity, we’ll look at two particular local entities: the jointly-owned foreign-Vietnamese LLC, and the JSC. The following information has been gathered with the aid of the Healy Consultants PLC website.

Joint-venture LLC – There are two shareholders in a joint-venture limited liability company: a foreigner and a local. This entity allows entry into many industries and foreign ownership can range from a maximum of 49% to 99%. These companies are required to have an appointed local legal representative, a capital account at a local bank, and a Foreign Investment Certificate (FIC).

Also required is a registered local address, a certificate of deposit from a local bank for the share capital ($50,000), and yearly audited financial statements.

This entity is best for foreign business owners who want access to partially restricted industries, and when the business owner has a local partner they trust. It takes about three months to set up.

JSC – For a joint stock company, there must be three shareholders of any nationality, although one of them must be appointed as the legal representative of the business. If that representative is a foreigner, they will be required to get a work permit and show proof of at least one year of management experience.

In addition, requirements include a bank certificate as proof of the funds available for investment ($10,000), the opening of a capital account with a local bank, an FIC, and annual submission of audited financial statements.

A JSC is a useful entity for anyone looking to start a business with more than two partners. The lower investment requirements are also a plus. It takes about two months to set up.

Labour and Tax

Kenneth Atkinson, the Executive Chairman at Grant Thornton Vietnam, pointed out two big factors to keep in mind:

The tax regime and labour laws are the two most important things to keep in mind. Both are quite complex. In the context of taxes, structuring your investments from a tax-planning perspective is very important. You have to ask yourself questions like, are you investing from your personal name? Are you investing through a corporate structure? What double tax treaties exist that make it beneficial to invest from, say, Singapore, instead of Hong Kong or the U.K. What is the impact of those regulations if you exit the business through a sale?

A thorough read of the Labour Code (vietnamlegal.com.vn is a useful resource) is a must, and when it comes to local taxes, Grant Thornton’s 2016 Doing Business in Vietnam report has a great overview of tax requirements.

 

Cultural Mindfulness

If you’re coming from an Asian country, you’re likely to understand the cultural ways here better than Westerners. Gone are brash negotiations, rapid-fire contracts and cutting to the chase. Vietnam in general is a long-term game that requires patience above all else.

The client meetings at karaoke bars (now slowly being overtaken by beer club meetings), the formal business cards exchange, the contract-over-drinks approach, the sheer politeness of it all – it’s all part of getting to know you as a person. People do business with whom they trust, and foreigners here seem to like these practices enough to uphold the local business culture. As Mr. Atkinson points out: “I actually prefer being handed a business card rather than some American guy flicking it across a table at me.” A final story from Mr. Atkinson:

In 1999, we had a fairly big project with the Asian Development Bank and the Ministry of Finance. I first went to dinner with these guys at the introduction of a Vietnamese friend. We had an enjoyable dinner and a few bottles of wine. Once it ended, my friend said they liked me, but they didn’t know Grant Thornton. So I said to one of the guys, What football team do you support? He said, Manchester United. I said, That’s great because we’re the auditors to Manchester United. Then two bottles of brandy appeared on the table and we stay there for another hour and a half. In the end we actually got the job.


Building Your Brand in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

An effective brand strategy is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. Especially here in Vietnam you need strong branding to compete in a tough market. Let us shed some light on what makes the Vietnamese market different from other regions and why it can be a tough nut to crack.

Business in Vietnam

One of the youngest, fastest and most active markets in the world, Vietnam offers political stability and steady expansion. People in Vietnam are about to rise from relative poverty to become strong, well-funded consumers.

To set up a successful branding strategy in Vietnam, it is necessary not only to understand the quirks of an emerging market, but also Vietnamese culture. Let us look at the demographics first.

Women

Like everywhere else, women are drawn towards fashion and promises of beauty, although the independent lady in red is not too popular here yet. Vietnamese women tend to be drawn to cute and feminine designs. Family and children are still a major focus, and with the growing awareness of environmental issues, so are health and safety.

Men

Like everywhere else again, men are attracted to branding that speaks of strength and success. However, the Vietnamese also are drawn quite strongly towards technology. Maybe that’s because there are so many graduates in the banking, business and IT sectors, or because of the central role of technology in an emerging market.

Elderly

Elderly people are still very traditional and family is even more important to them. Growth, safety and other promises that support the concept of family as a safe haven are most effective for this group of people.

Youth

Young people love Western influences, from skateboards and graffiti to shirts with prints in English that sometimes even make sense. But however much they are into Captain America, they still are deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture and for a variety of reasons prefer local brands to cover their daily needs.

What all generations have in common is that family is usually more important than the individual. Together with their amazing optimism, the will always to put the family first is the greatest strength of the Vietnamese people and a big opportunity for brand management.

Family in Vietnam

The Use of Language

The fact that Vietnam uses the Roman alphabet may fool the aspiring brand developer into thinking the choice of their brand name is easier than in China. Not really. The Vietnamese language is monosyllabic and that is how people read a brand name. Long, foreign words look complicated and are often too hard to get one’s head around in order to generate affinity.

The shorter the better. Nestle and its water is a good example. In Vietnam it is branded La Vie, “life” in French. Very easy for Vietnamese speakers to read, comprehend and memorise.

Foreign Brand Name or Vietnamese?

English names work well in Vietnam as long as they sound “nice”. Just take a look at some of the top native brands in the country: Vinamilk, Highlands Coffee, Vietnam Airlines, MBBank, Mobifone, Viettel and so on. Of course, except for the first two, many brands are targeted not solely at local consumers and also have their eyes on international or at least ASEAN expansion.

Successful big brands with pure Vietnamese branding would be Trung Nguyen or Phuc Long, for example. Other brand names are short and “nice”, even if they (seemingly) possess no meaning.

The language in which the brand is named doesn’t matter that much. What matters is that people can grasp the meaning of the word(s) and in case it’s foreign, that it’s easy to follow. Exceptions are brands that are mainly targeted at foreigners or Vietnamese with “foreign” aspirations. Travel agencies for example work much better with international names.

Colours

When it comes to colours, the approach in Vietnam is the same as in China. Red is the colour of strength, luck and success. Yellow is gold and means prosperity. Black and white, though the traditional colours of death, are nowadays symbols of minimalism and focus. Blue is clean and green is natural.

Target Categories

In Europe, we can decide to look cheap if we want to draw the customer’s eyes to our low prices. In Vietnam, that doesn’t work at the moment because if you want cheap products you head for the local market and street vendor stalls on Nguyen Trai. No brand is meant to look cheap. Developing a brand in Vietnam means communicating that something has value, no matter what pricing scheme you use.

The relatively new Trung Nguyen Legend concept that pops up on every corner is a good example. The product, though better than street coffee, is not really high-end. But the branding appeals because it communicates high standards.Black and gold, together with the word “Legend” – talk about posh stuff.

Brands that appeal to the increasingly affluent group of customers will communicate quality with a stylish and simplistic design as well as colour palate. The aforementioned black and white are increasingly popular among many brands all over the country, even if it is just to be different from the colourful clutter that makes the ad landscape in Southeast Asia as lovely as it is complicated. Sometimes it’s better to whisper than to shout.

Market Trinity in Vietnam

Vietnam is actually not one market but three. The applicable strategies may differ strongly between the North, the South and the Centre.

The North

Hanoi and the Northern provinces are very traditional and judge a brand or product on the high value it exudes. Status symbols and quality presentation matter more than in the other regions.

The Centre

Even more traditional than the North, people are strongly rooted in the old ways. Hue is the imperial centre of the Nguyen dynasty, after all. You can communicate high value, safety and family orientation, but innovation is not yet a part of people’s daily lives.

The South

Much more open to innovation, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat and other urban areas of the Southern provinces drive the country to new heights. Many brands start here and once they are established, begin the arduous journey northwards. Saigon is where you try your new concept and see whether it leads to roaring success or dire loss.

Status Symbols

And here we enter the world of status symbols and their position in an emerging market like Vietnam. One of the first things you notice upon coming to Asia may be the high number of luxury cars. As soon as somebody can afford a Bentley, they will drive one. Of course exceptions define the rule, and some successful business people drive their Mercedes to meetings while they use their good old Honda Wave motorbike to buy groceries.

Communicating value, success and quality is a part of brand development in Vietnam as much as in other emerging Asian economies. Contrary to Europe, where a puritan mentality is ingrained by tradition, in Asia a person is judged by what they show off. If you have wealth to present to the world, you must be successful because people must be buying your product or service. Hence, it must be good.

Credit: Autogespot

Protect Your Brand

One important consideration: if you create your brand in Vietnam, consult a specialised lawyer who can help you register and protect it. Success draws in copycats, and without legal protection it may be hard to stand your ground.

Unlike patents or copyrights, where you generally only need to claim ownership once on the basis of a novel product or service, a trademark must be actively and continually asserted. Vietnam has made progress in these areas, but there is still some way to go.

For more information on this, be sure to read our article on Protecting Your Assets.


Investors to Shape the Future of Asia Pacific Flexible Space

By: CBRE

Flexible space is expanding rapidly across Asia Pacific due to increasing occupier requirements for flexible working environments. However, to sustain this trend, future flexible spaces will increasingly require a high level of investor participation to meet evolving demands regionally, says CBRE Asia Pacific.

According to CBRE’s report, “Exploiting the Agile Revolution: Prospects for Landlords and Investors”,advances in technology, a more mobile workforce and unpredictable economic growth are reshaping the business environment for occupiers. This has prompted investors to treat agile-based space as a long-term investment class within real estate portfolios.

CBREImage source: CBRE

“Investors in Asia Pacific real estate are taking a long-term view of flexible space. Investors are approaching occupier market shifts more strategically and rebalancing their portfolios to reflect a higher demand for agile space across the region,” said Steve Swerdlow, CEO of Asia Pacific, CBRE.

But Just What is Flexible Space?

Flexible space refers to the provision of office space that solves flexible, transient or short-term space requirements. It can range from traditional serviced offices to relatively newer, agile formats, such as turnkey locations. A turnkey location is defined as a project that is built so that it can be sold to buyers as a completed project. The owner must only “turn the key” to enter his/her new space with no construction or remodelling to be done.

Flex spaces also include coworking locations, which are undoubtedly registering the strongest growth and attracting the most interest from occupiers.

CBREImage source: CBRE

Coworking and Flexibles Spaces in Asia are at an All-Time High

Flexible space operators have grown rapidly in recent years, reaching a total footprint of just under 40 million sq. ft. in 14 major Asia Pacific cities according to tracking by CBRE. Growth between 2013-2017 stood at more than 50 percent year-on-year.

CBREImage source: businesswire.com

With international players entering the region in 2016 and local operators expanding rapidly, the pace of overall growth has accelerated, reaching 57 percent year-on-year in 2017. China and India are the fastest growing markets for agile-based space, while mature markets like Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore host a smaller volume of agile space due to the lack of vacant office supply.

Although the flexible space model continues to evolve, CBRE Research believes that the fundamental shift found in five macro trends will continue to underpin its solid growth. Workplace technology, liquid workforces (project-based, contractor-staffed teams), workplace evolution, cost optimisation and new accounting ruleswill force both investors and occupiers to rethink corporate real estate strategies for the foreseeable future.

CBREImage source: CBRE

Longer term, the more efficient use of space could lead to a reduction of space per capita. CBRE’s recent Tech Survey indicated that around 50 percent of occupiers expect to require less office space in five years while seeking higher quality space capable of encouraging collaboration, innovation and employee wellbeing.

Considerations for Flexible Space and Coworking Space Investors

According to CBRE Research, other major considerations for investors include:

Refinement of Investment Philosophy:

Successful investments in flexible space will rely on attracting a highly diverse tenant mix, providing more flexible leasing terms and value-added services and amenities, especially those geared towards wellness.

Optimal Allocation of Flexible Space:

The majority of investors believe coworking will have a neutral to positive impact on building value when present in less than 40 percent of the building. As a result, landlords and investors are recommended to achieve an optimal balance of traditional and agile space in a building/portfolio. Creating an equilibrium reduces overdependence on a single occupier while generating synergy between agile space operators and other tenants in the property.

CBREImage source: raconteur.net

Scalability and Efficiency Are Keys to Success in the Real Estate Market

CBRE Research concludes that the profitability of agile space depends on several other factors such as whether corporate users are positioned to create more upscale locations, whether it is possible to allocate 30 percent or less space to hot desks (workspaces used by several workers during different time periods) while increasing allocation to private offices. In addition, it is necessary to source suitable sites in competitive locations while maintaining cost control.

Findings from the report rely heavily on demand dynamics of tenants. Major considerations for occupiers include:

Addressing Existing Flexible Concerns:

Occupiers are primarily concerned with the dilution of company culture and data security. Secondary concerns include environmental, health and safety requirements, quality of infrastructure and employee retention.

Understanding In-market Agility Trends in Asia:

Each Asia Pacific market is unique in its current and future adoption of flexible space, which is driving occupier decision-making.

- Pacific: 30 percent of Pacific occupiers currently use agile office solutions but 36 percent are not considering using in the future. Flexible space is preferred by occupiers, with finance and technology firms the most common end-users.

- China: 9 percent use coworking space due to sudden increases in staff; occupiers turning to higher space utilization and activity-based working as agile solutions.

- India: 38 percent of occupiers will increase coworking portfolios by more than 15 percent in the coming years;60 percent prefer private offices.

CBREImage source: fastcompany.net

No One-Size Fits All Strategy:

The increasing use of flexible space means occupiers are turning to flexible strategies that allow for adaptation to sudden changes in business conditions.

- Centralized Strategy: Operations are centralized in a single office, with a focus on privacy and data security and incorporation of agile solutions (Activity-based Working, provisions for expansion and event space/amenities).

- Hub and Spoke Strategy: Hub-to-host core functions and the inclusion of agile-based solutions like coworking or serviced offices for select project and sales offices, turnkey solutions for larger but short-term nodes, provisions for expansion and contraction in lease terms, and selecting buildings with event space and amenities.

- Dispersed Strategy: Operations that are highly dispersed with mobile workforces are considering coworking or serviced offices for select project and sales offices and plug and play solutions with multiple agile providers with multiple centres.

Act While the Market is Hot for Flexible Spaces and Coworking Offices in Asia Pacific

“Investors must not stand idly by as occupiers demand greater flexibility and the growth of agile space reshapes office demand. Regardless of the way in which investors opt to respond to the agile space revolution, ultimately the need for assets that combine traditional and agile space exists as the market transitions,” said Dr Henry Chin, Head of Research, Asia Pacific, CBRE.

The conclusions on the future of the Asia Pacific flexible space in this report covers both serviced offices and coworking space. Incubators and accelerators are not covered. The 14 cities that frame the research project include Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Where to Find Coworking Spaces in Saigon*

WeWork  
Address: 11 Đoàn Văn Bơ, Ward 12, District 4, Hồ Chí Minh  
Phone:: 028 7109 8689
Offers: Free micro-roasted coffee bar and fresh fruit water; in-house professional and social events

Workyos   
Address: Viettel Complex, 12th floor, Tower A, 285 Cach Mang Thang Tam, District 10, 12, Ho Chi Minh City  
Phone: 02862 882 882/ 098 640 0303
Extras: Free coffee and water; sound and video recording equipment; podcasting room; makerspace

KaKoncept  
Address: Floor 7th, 9 Nguyen Trai, Ben Thanh ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City 
Phone: 028 2230 0666
Extras: Free coffee and water; library; on-site cafe

CirCO Coworking Space    
Address: H3 Building, 1st - 2nd Floor, 384 Hoang Dieu Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City 
Phone: 028 7108 6899
Extras: Free coffee, tea and beer; library; on-site cafe; yoga studio

ITechBlack  
Address: Floor 11th, 180 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City 
Phone: 028 3930 9888
Extras: Free beer and water; dog and cat friendly; wheelchair accessible

the Hive Saigon   
Address: 94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City 
Phone: 028 3620 3481
Extras: Free coffee and water; numerous creative events and meet-ups each month.

* Each location offers high-speed wifi, printers and other office basics in your choice of private offices, office suites, shared workspaces with “hot desks” or dedicated desks.

About CBRE Group, Inc.

CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE: CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2017 revenue). The company has more than 80,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate investors and occupiers through approximately 450 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.

Banner Image source: smart-magazine.com


Tourism in Vietnam: The Past and Future

By: Mark Gwyther

American presidents usually give a “State of the Union” speech to the legislature around this time, discussing the past year and what their goals for the future are. While I don’t have orange skin, here is my address about the state of tourism in Vietnam and a few predictions for 2017.

travel in vietnam

Looking Back at the Monkey

Chinese and Koreans All Around...

By any measurement, last year was an excellent year for tourism in Vietnam. Out of 29 countries, only Cambodia showed a drop in international visitors to Vietnam. In fact, the number of inbound foreigners increased by nearly 50 percent in the last four years.

Those of you in Saigon reading this English-language newspaper and working in the hospitality or tourism industry may be surprised or sceptical about the numbers. That is because Vietnam has been experiencing a tremendous shift in markets. Nearly 70 percent of this growth has come from China and South Korea alone, the two largest and fastest-growing inbound markets in 2016.

This shift accelerated in 2016 at a staggering rate. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of international arrivals to Vietnam grew by 3,165,000 people. Of that increase in visitors, 2,230,000 came from China and South Korea.

The reason for the increase is pretty simple: China and South Korea have large populations with a rising average income which is creating a larger middle class. People typically begin travelling internationally when their family income reaches about $1,500 per month. The first trip is usually to a country nearby with a familiar culture. Vietnam is a close, warm-weather destination with a familiar Asian culture.

 

growth in arrivals

 

… and Also More Westerners

You might think all this growth is great, but not really relevant to your business if you rely on American, European and Australian tourists. Sorry, those markets haven’t grown significantly. That is why on 1 July 2015, Vietnam’s government waived visa fees for five European countries for a 15-day visit.

So, did it work? Apparently it did.

Granting a few months for word to spread, from November 2015 through the end of 2016 each month saw a significant improvement over the same month the year before.

However, while the chart may look fantastic, the actual increase in 2016 for these five countries averaged about 9,700 more tourists per month. Even if the fee exemption was expanded to North America and Oceania, a similar jump in tourists would result in only an average monthly increase of about 25,000 visitors this year. China and South Korea combined to grow an average of 119,000 visitors per month in 2016 and this coming year will see an even larger increase.

Just how much larger, you ask?

foreign visitors

Looking to the Rooster

Here are a few predictions for 2017:

  1. The new electronic visa system will grow eligible markets by over 50 percent.

At this time, it is not clear who will be eligible, but this may have a greater positive effect on tourism than waiving the visa fee. It seems more likely that the current system of travellers sending their passport to a Vietnamese consulate is a greater barrier than the visa fee.

  1. The number of Russians travelling to Vietnam will double in the second half of 2017.

The number of Russian travellers to Vietnam increased by 28 percent this year from last year, though the number is only up 19 percent over a two-year period. However, with U.S. sanctions likely to be lifted, the Russian currency will rise in value. Political problems in Egypt and Turkey make Vietnam a safe choice for chasing the sun.

  1. The number of Chinese tourists will grow faster than in 2016.

Chinese citizens embarked on an estimated 60 million outbound trips last year, yet only

2.6 million were to its southern neighbour. Despite China already being far and away Vietnam’s largest market, there is plenty of room to grow.

  1. Total number of international visitors to Vietnam will surpass 13 million.

See #1, #2, and #3 above.

  1. A domestic Vietjet flight will leave Ho Chi Minh City on time.

Just joking!

Let’s not get too crazy with these predictions.


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