Quang Ninh has emerged strongly among other cities and provinces and is threatening the No. 2 position of the capital city of Hanoi, as it is close to the border with China, according to the latest ASEAN Tourism report by Maybank Kim Eng, an investment banking arm of Maybank.
The northern province posted solid double-digit growth in 2017 compared to unimpressive single-digit numbers prior to 2016, claiming the third most popular tourism spot in Vietnam by the end of 2018.
Last year Quang Ninh attracted 12 million tourists, an increase of 22 per cent compared to previous year. Among them, 5.2 million visitors are foreigners, a growth of 22 per cent on-year.
“Strong international arrivals largely contributed by Chinese tourists thanks to proximity and accessibility,” wrote the report.
The province has seen $1 billion poured into developing three infrastructure projects of Van Don international airport, Ha Long international cruise port and the Ha Long - Van Don highway.
The new Van Don airport, which is able to receive international flights, commercially started from December 2018 and it is welcoming frequent flights from Ho Chi Minh City by Vietjet, Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways.
The airport is seeking approval from the government to attract international charter flights.
The $480 million Van Don - Mong Cai highway that commenced construction in April 2019 will be completing the connection from the border with China’s Yunnan, with Hanoi and Haiphong, the city port and another border with China’s Guangxi, Mong Cai.
The Van Don - Mong Cai highway, once completed, will reduce travel time from the China border via Mong Cai to Ha Long Bay, one of the seven new wonders of the world, to only 1.5 hours.
“The first ever airport in Quang Ninh, coupled with new inland connections from China and new international cruise port are expected to make the province the new tourism hub in the north of Vietnam,” the report noted.
Meanwhile, new infrastructure has made Danang more accessible, while new products and services are the very reasons found to help magnetise tourists to Danang in the future.
International tourists to Danang increased at an average of 28.4 per cent a year in the past five years.
In 2018, passengers arriving by airplanes rose 48.7 per cent on-year, while the number of cruises arriving at Tien Sa port jumped 66 per cent on-year. Danang ranked 15th in the New York Times’ 2019 Places to Go.
By the end of 2018, Danang had 23 international and regional direct air routes, of which 15 were scheduled and eight were charter flights, which in turn increased the number of flights to the city to 328 a week.
New Terminal 2 of Danang Airport which started operation in May 2017, Danang International Fireworks Festival and Golden Bridge, and others helped to attract more tourists to the city.
It is worthwhile to note that tourism receipts of the city increased faster than the number of passengers, suggesting each tourist spent more.
The southern city of Can Tho now emerges as the up-and-coming tourism hotspot, thanks to its upgraded airport infrastructure capacity that grows to be a substitute for Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Eight new routes, including seven domestic and one international, were added in the first four months of 2019 , compared to four domestic routes in 2018. Air Asia announced to start Bangkok - Can Tho flight from May 2019, and would add Kuala Lumpur - Can Tho later.
Can Tho’s total receipts from tourism posted 27.5 per cent compound annual growth rate during the past five years, higher than Quang Ninh (23.1 per cent) and Danang (26.1 per cent), even though they are of a smaller total size.
Both Khanh Hoa and Phu Quoc, meanwhile, enjoy the highest growth in tourism, benefiting directly from direct international flights from Thailand, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and so on.
According to Maybank KimEng, Vietnam has the highest air passengers and inbound tourism growth, growing at the rate of 28.9 per cent during 2012-18, higher than that of China’s 11.5 per cent and Thailand’s 11.1 per cent.
Among top 10 fastest-growing tourist destinations in the world in 2017, according to World Tourism Organisation, Vietnam is the only country with more than 10 million foreign tourists a year. It is also the only one that posted strong double-digit growth of international overnight visitors for three consecutive years up to 2018.