Driving forces for hinterland tourism
With many experienced years of tourism business in the outskirts of Hanoi, Nguyen Manh Than, director of Ao Vua Joint Stock Company, can easily recognise the increasing demand for hinterland tourism of Hanoians.
His estimation was well received by Nguyen Thanh Trung, deputy general director of Archi Invest Joint Stock Company. Trung indicated several reasons to prove that the tourism market in the hinterland of Hanoi would grow strongly and sustainably in the coming years.
One of the reason was that the great demand would come from domestic and international tourists to Hanoi. Over the past years, Hanoi tourism had grown by over 10 per cent per year, and welcomed 21.8 million visitors, five times more than Nha Trang, only during last year.
Another source of demand, according to Trung, which is much more important, was the visitors from the inner city. A quick survey by Archi Invest in 2017 showed that over 90 per cent of respondents wanted to go to the suburbs more than ten times a year, and 70 per cent of them wanted to pay less than $43 per person for that vacation.
Another reason was that the market of hinterland tourism became more and more accessible thanks to the convenient transportation routes. Hence, the vacation would be much more cost-effective.
On the other hand, Hanoi's hinterlands had all four elements to facilitate resort tourism which were the beautiful nature, the local culture, delicious cuisines and friendly people.
However, the current situation of the hinterland tourism market is in stark contrast to the bright picture that both Thuy and Trung painted.
The harsh reality
Despite the growing demand for resort tourism in Hanoi’s hinterlands, the number of decent resorts in the vicinity of Hanoi is now very modest. Only a handful of projects have come into operation such as Flamingo Dai Lai, Melia Ba Vi, Mai Chau Ecolodge, Serena Resort Kim Boi and Emeralda Ninh Binh. Than himself had to admit that Hanoi’s hinterland tourism was developing in a scattered and spontaneous manner.
The workshop "Tourism Development in Hanoi's Hinterlands: Current Situation and Prospects" organized by TheLEADER on November 21 heated up when Luong Ngoc Khanh, general director of H&K Hospitality Hotel Company, sparked up a heated debate. While both Thuy and Trung were optimistic about the future of this trend, Khanh appeared to be more sceptical as the resorts were only crowded on weekends. However, this matter could be solved by discounts for weekdays, according to Le Kien Trung, founder of Urban Getaway.
Make hay while the sun shines
After a heated debate, most of the speakers at the workshop appeared upbeat about the bright prospects of hinterland tourism. The problem now was whether investors had the courage to lead the market and grab the opportunities.
Khanh said that investment opportunities in Hanoi’s suburban resorts would be more open, but investors also need to be cautious and alert. Another issue was the ability to attract tourists with tourism products.
Besides, from the perspective of an experienced consultant in the resort business, Nguyen Quang Huy, general director of Welham Hospitality, emphasised that hinterland resort services should not have high hopes for room occupancy, as this figure indicated the number of guests that stay. However, most of the hinterland tourists just have their vacation in one day or two. Besides, according to Huy, hinterland tourism should be combined with entertainment and services.