TripAdvisor’s “Top Destination in Asia” award was presented to Vietnam’s Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Ha Long, as the country has received 6.8 million international arrivals in 2012 and expects to receive 7.2 million in 2013. Most of these tourists are expected to come from China, South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Cambodia, Russia and Thailand.
Phu Bai Airport in Hue is expected to re-open in October, with the Tuy Hoa Airport scheduled to be completed by September and Terminal 2 at International Noi Bai Airport aiming for later in 2014.
In related news, Airports Corporation of Vietnam requested acceleration in the development of Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai to ease the burden on Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Meanwhile, Cam Ranh Airport in Khanh Hoa will upgrade the existing runway or build a new runway and will be able to receive some 5.5 million passengers and 100,000 tons of goods each year.
More airlines fly to Vietnam
New Hanoi fights mark Finnair’s first scheduled service to Vietnam and Cambodia Angkor Air will make connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Also, Air China has launched a new air route between HCM City and Houston via Beijing on July 11 and Ethiopian Airlines commence flying from Hong Kong (Hong Kong) to Hanoi (Viet Nam) from 17 July.
Not to be outdone, Etihad Airway announced a direct route connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Abu Dhabi (UAE) to open in October 2013. Direct India-Vietnam flights to take off by November.
Local networks VietJetAir, Jetstar Pacific are also improving and launch more connections and Vietnam Airlines offers flights to remote areas such Quang Binh near the Phong Nha Ke Bang World Heritage listed site.
More roadways lead to Vietnam
National Highway 2 linking Vietnam and Laos was officially inaugurated at the Panghok international border of Phongsaly Laos to the Tay Trang border gate in Dien Bien Province Vietnam. The road from Ha Tien to Kep is improving and the trip between Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh is very convenient.
Vietnam continues its visa exemption scheme for nationals of Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Travel agents suggest, however, that governments waive visas to other markets and make visa on arrival easier at additional airport besides Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City.
Once perceived as a budget to mid-range destination, Vietnam has become more upscale in recent years. A development reflected in the growing number of luxury hotels and resorts across the country.
The total number of tourist accommodations is estimated to be about 290,000 rooms, including 61 five-star hotels with 14,600 rooms, 154 four-star hotels with 19,300 rooms and 365 three-star hotels with 25,520 rooms. A further 25 properties with more than 4,100 rooms are planned, with six hotels with more than 900 rooms expected to hit the market as early as this year.
Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Danang in particular HAVE more luxury hotels open and set to open next year, giving leisure and MICE travelers more choices.
Also, some remote places are opening to tourists and Swiss- Bell Hotel opens a new property in Lao Cai, near the Chinese border, a gateway to Sapa.
Other boutique hotels in the Mekong Delta are getting some notice since opening, such as the Mekong Lodge, Victoria Lodge Nui Sam, and the River Hotel in Ha Tien.
Activity has recently slowed a little in the lower Mekong, but two new names will appear there in 2014. Starting in March, Aqua Expeditions aquaexpeditions.com ) will offer seven-night cruises from Siem Reap to My Tho, about 80 minutes from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), on the new 40-passenger Aqua Mekong, as well as three and four-night cruises between My Tho and Phnom Penh.
In September, Amadeus by Lüftner Cruises is launching the 68-passenger Mekong Navigator, sailing between Kampong Cham, about five hours’ drive from Siem Reap and My Tho.
In Halong Bay, Sealife and Starlight are the two newest 4 star cruise ships operating during the next busy season.
VNAT is focusing on improving Vietnam‘s tourism sector by focusing on improving quality and targeting eight key tourism markets (China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, France, Russia).
VNAT also targets religious tourism such as halal tours and is aiming for religious travelers from India, the Middle East, North America and Latin America.
In drawing up a plan to develop the Vietnamese tourism industry in the next 10 years, relevant ministries have emphasized that quality, not quantity, would be the most important goal. This means that Vietnam target the markets which have high spending travelers and strive to persuade travelers to stay for longer periods in Vietnam.
VNAT and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is promoting six experiential and creative travel themes as part of the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategy 2012-2015, to encourage multi-country itineraries across Southeast Asia.
The six themes include The Taste of South-east Asia; ASEAN, a Tropical Paradise; World-Class Cities; Experience Diverse Traditions; Sport and Relaxation; and Diverse Contemporary Creativity.
Family travel, wellness and spa, soft adventure, river cruises and customized travel are top trends to watch for in 2014.
Luxury travel is no longer just about fine dining and five-star hotels. With so many new experiences on offer, it's the stories travelers can tell afterwards that confer status.
Quality tourism viewed as “experiential”, “customized” or “niche” travel is the key to “quality tourism” or high-yield” tourism. We create beautiful experiences for the most sophisticated travelers and sell you worry free tours so your guests get an authentic experience.
In particular, we have launched the first ever two set departure tours “Vietnam Highlights in 12 days” and “Vietnam and Cambodia Experiences in 14 Days”. Please log in to our website for the confidential tariff and to see various niche tourism products available.