New airport terminal in south-central Vietnam paves way for tourism boom near Nha Trang

By Quynh Chi - Jun 04, 2018 | 01:40 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERTourism ambitions along a fast-developing stretch of Vietnamese coastline will shift into high gear when a new terminal for international passengers is to be opened at Cam Ranh International Airport in the next few weeks.

New airport terminal in south-central Vietnam paves way for tourism boom near Nha Trang
Cam Ranh has the potential to be a world-class tourist destination.

Built at a cost of $163 million over a construction period of two-and-a-half years, the bold addition opens the door at one of Vietnam’s four major airports to as many as eight million passengers per year, or almost 4.8 million more than it handled last year.

“Our portal has been a bottleneck,” said Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, general manager of The Anam, which opened last year as the first five-star resort in Cam Ranh. 

“It’s limited the number of people we’ve been able to bring into the destination, no matter that we’ve got the longest runway in Vietnam. But now the bottleneck’s been broken,” he added.

Long mostly a gateway to the bustling bayside city of Nha Trang, Cam Ranh is becoming a destination in its own right due to the evolution of Long Beach, an idyllic, eight-kilometer sweep of white sand less than five minutes from the airport.

Indeed, since 2015 more than 30 hospitality projects have been licensed for development along the strip. Many are hotels that do or will carry an international brand name.

The biggest venture is KN Paradise, an 800-hectare resort that is slated to include a suite of hotels and an array of real estate opportunities and entertainment options.

Its first components — a Greg Norman-designed golf course called KN Golf Links Cam Ranh and a 572-key Wyndham Grand hotel — are scheduled to officially open in September.

“Cam Ranh has the potential to be a world-class tourist destination,” said Le Van Kiem, KN Paradise’s developer and a former military man who trained in the dunes of Cam Ranh when he was in the army. “With the airport expansion, we’ll now get to see just how long it takes.”

Designed to mimic a type of bird’s nest common in Khanh Hoa Province, the new terminal at Cam Ranh International Airport is a two-story structure with almost 52,000 square meters of floor space.

Contractors on the project included Singapore-based architecture firm CPG Consultants, Pacific Architects & Engineers out of the U.S., and Vietnamese construction company Airport Design & Construction Consultancy.

Last month, the airport received more than 30 international flights per day, with the majority coming from China, Russia, and South Korea.

That number is expected to increase significantly by the first of next year with the addition of regular service from Singapore, Thailand and Japan, and more flights from domestic destinations such as Phu Quoc.