It has been claimed that in Southeast Asia there are only three islands which can become tourism paradise, namely Phuket, Bali and Phu Quoc. While Phuket and Bali have become tourism hotspot, Phu Quoc is lagging far behind. Do you think what are the reasons why Phu Quoc are underdeveloped compared to Phuket and Bali?
Lee Pearce: Personally, I do not think that Phu Quoc is lagging behind, Phuket and Bali are over developed and really in the eyes on any regular traveler an “avoid if possible” destination. Both are so geared to cater to tourists there is little of the real people or destination left. In Bali you can escape this by travelling away from the main tourist precincts, in Phuket not so much.
Phu Quoc on the other hand still has the raw natural beauty in the landscape and the people still live their lives. I would choose Phu Quoc over the other two hands down and this is one of the key messages we are using in the Western markets, part of the success the resort is enjoying currently.
What are the main attractions of Phu Quoc that may differentiate itself from Phuket and Bali? What typical changes have you seen in Phu Quoc since you have been here?
Lee Pearce: I think the fact it’s a relatively small island which still offers a wide and diverse tourist offering. Part of this is the daily general life you can see in Duong Dong township, the market, the fishing wharfs and out in the rural areas.
On one hand you might say Phu Quoc does not offer all the tourism infrastructure yet and this may be true from a building and man made attraction perspective, however from the natural and experience standpoint its all here now are generating the increased interest and visitation to the island.
How does Accor position Phu Quoc island in its Vietnam business strategy?
Lee Pearce: Accor has growth within its core and the growth of the company globally is a testament to that. Asia Pacific as a whole has grown from one to close to 1,000 hotels in around 30 years with Vietnam well in that mix.
The key to this is the good will value and perception of our brands and having “hero” destinations such as Phu Quoc in the network are vital. Accor is right behind the Vietnamese strategy to make tourism a major economic provider and thanks CEO Group for the opportunity to partner them on their existing and future developments.
How has Novotel Phu Quoc Resort performed since its opening in terms of occupancy and revenue?
Lee Pearce: The truth is it hasn’t been an easy ride, yet this is the same with all new destinations and I compliment CEO Group for its bravery in being one of the first to invest here.
There are lots of barriers to success and the lack of international flights into Phu Quoc is the major one.
The year 2016 was always going to be difficult and this proved very true. 2017 on the other had has seen great success in the hotel over the main tourist travel periods, both domestic and international and the key now is to fill the gaps through the year for sustainable business performance.
What are the main tourist markets for Novotel Phu Quoc Resort?
Lee Pearce: There are two main seasons here, June to August being domestic and Asian visitors on the island, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan the main markets. November to March is international season and this is made up of Scandinavian, British, German, Italian, Russian and a few other smaller.
Business out of the Pacific is growing steadily and Australia will be a key market in future.
As more and more hotels are opening in Phu Quoc, are you afraid of stiffer competition and what will you do to cope with competition from other hotels?
Lee Pearce: Not really, competition brings opportunity and the tourism industry is one of most competitive there is. While there are many consumer laws around anti competitive behavior which we all abide by, we can cooperate on marketing and promotional activities and we do so extensively. Also, each new competitor undertakes its own marketing campaigns which bring further interest to the destination.
As far as staying competitive, we just focus on providing the best we can to our guests and let them be our advocates, we ensure we work on allowing the guests to genuine experiences and finally we just make sure we listen to what people tell us, good or bad, and use it to make the next guests stay with us the best it can be.
Thank you very much!