Vietnam’s untapped cruise tourism potential

15:31 | 17/06/2019 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - With more than 3,260km of coastline and over one million square kilometers of exclusive marine economic zones, Vietnam has huge potential to develop cruise tourism, but turning this potential into reality requires consistent strategies and policies and proper infrastructure.  

vietnams untapped cruise tourism potential

Vietnam welcomes almost 500 cruise ships with about 300,000 foreign visitors per year, accounting for two to three percent of all international tourists to the country. Vietnam ranks fourth among Asian countries in terms of the number of arriving cruise ships and first among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in terms of its cruise tourism industry.

Nguyen Quy Phuong, Director of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) told Vietnam Economic News that Vietnam has higher potential and more advantages in cruise tourism development compared to other countries in the region. However, inadequate ports and management are the biggest problems hindering industry development, Phuong said.

Vietnam has six groups of seaports planned for cruise tourism. A 2014 Prime Ministerial Decision called for the construction of ports capable of receiving cruise ships of 100,000-225,282GT in the country’s northern and central regions. However, only one of the planned ports – the Ha Long international passenger port in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh – has been put into use, while other similar facilities are still under construction.

Phuong said building ports with berths, immigration services and passenger lounges and relevant public utility services is very important to develop cruise tourism.

vietnams untapped cruise tourism potential

A Ministry of Transport representative said the lack of ports specifically designed for big-sized cruise ships has become a major problem. Cargo port enterprises do not welcome the use of cargo ports for cruise ships, as they think those vessels will affect cargo loading and unloading and yield modest revenues, which are considerably lower than those in foreign countries, and international travel and cruise agents usually lease berths for a short period of only two to three months.

Emre Sayin, CEO of Global Ports Holding (Turkey) said Vietnam needs to have the right strategy to develop its cruise tourism industry, while the country’s coastal cities can build competitive seaports with consistent, high quality services and appropriate advertising strategies to persuade cruise companies to choose Vietnamese seaports as one of their landing destinations in the next two years.

Statistics show that the number of cruise tourists to Asia has grown 23 percent per year on average, while Vietnam’s growth in this area remains modest.

The only reason of this, according to Emre Sayin, is Vietnam’s lack of necessary seaport infrastructure.