Cruise Tourism: Strength of Vietnam Tourism

Cruise tourism is contributing significantly to the tourism industry and economy of Vietnam. However, in the long run, Vietnam needs the correct strategy and investment for modern seaport system development to unlock its potential strength.

Impressive figures

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), Vietnam’s cruise tourism has developed rapidly, with more international visitors coming to Vietnam. In 2016, Vietnam welcomed more than 10 million international visitors, including 284,855 arrivals by sea, up 67.7 per cent over 2015. In the first six months of 2017, tourist arrivals from the sea reached 170,843, an increase of 26 per cent over the same period of 2016.

These results, according to tourism experts, come from Vietnam’s favourable natural conditions, with more than 3,200 kilometres of coastline, thousands of islands, diverse ecosystems and world-renowned bays like Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang Bay, Vinh Hy Bay and Lang Co Bay. In addition, Vietnam is favourably located between two of the largest cruise tourism centres of Hong Kong and Singapore – the major economic hubs that open the door for Vietnam to access other countries in the region and the world from the East Sea. In addition, to attract and serve an increasing number of cruise trvellers to Vietnam, relevant authorities and tourism businesses have adopted many reform ad investment policies in the past years. Specifically, it has opened Phu Quoc Island and Con Dao Island to foreign tourists, it has waivered visas for cruise tourists to Vietnam, and reduced port fees for passenger ships entering Vietnam on fixed routes or calling multiple times.

Infrastructure, seaport system needs upgrading

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) said that Vietnam has some deep-water ports, which are currently serving cruise ships such as Thi Vai-Cai Mep Port (Ba Ria-Vung Tau province), Phu My Port (Ba Ria-Vung province), Chan May Port (Thua Thien Hue province), Tien Sa Port (Da Nang City), Ha Long Port (Quang Ninh province) and Cam Ranh Port (Khanh Hoa province).

Some ports have met demands of cruise liners, for example, Tuan Chau International Passenger Terminal which was put into use in September 2015 and serve 2,000 ships anchored for visiting Ha Long Bay. Cai Mep Port (Ba Ria-Vung Tau) – one of multi-functional ports – is gradually marking itself on the world navigation map in international transhipment. Every year, it welcomes many international cruise ships, including luxury Genting Dream cruise ship with 2,044 visitors from Singapore to Vietnam on November 8, 2016. In particular, the arrival of the 194,000-tonne Margrethe Maersk container carrier on February 20, 2017 made Cai Mep Port one of 19 deep-water ports worldwide capable of accommodating vessels of 200,000 tonnes.

To meet demands of international cruise liners, some seaports are being upgraded. Chan May Port is expected to be upgraded in 2017 to receive 54 cruise ships with more than 113,000 international tourists and 45,000 crews visiting central coastal provinces. Being completed, Phu Quoc International Passenger Terminal (Kien Giang province) will be the first international standard multifunction passenger terminal in Vietnam. Once put into use, the port is capable of receiving international passenger and cargo ships with a capacity of between 5,000 and 6,000 passengers.

In addition to seaport system upgrading, Vietnam’s tourism industry is also investing to upgrade existing routes and attractions as well as build new routes and destinations to create new attractions. Tourism firms need to create new distinctive products for cruise tourists, for example, sightseeing to world heritages in coastal areas, cultural and historical relics, natural landscapes.

Although travel agents see that international tourist arrivals by sea cannot compete with those by air, this is also a channel with relatively big source of incomes. Cruise tourism will develop stably in the future and it needs to have sound investment strategies.

Giang Tu

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