BUSINESS NEWS SEPTEMBER 23
Korean group supports smart city development in Hung Yen
The People’s Committee of northern Hung Yen province and the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH) on September 20 inked a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on smart city development in Hung Yen province.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Seoul, CEO of LH Byeon Chang-heum said the collaboration between the Vietnamese province and LH is of importance to the growth and joint development of both sides.
It will serve as a driving force to further strengthen the Vietnam-RoK friendship and cooperation, he added.
The construction of a smart city applying information and communications technologies (ITC) and Internet of Things could be an effective solution to various urban issues such as traffic, safety, parking and environment, Byeon said.
For his part, Chairman of the Hung Yen People’s Committee Nguyen Van Phong said the province is facing various problems due to fast urbanisation and population growth.
Therefore, the province hopes to develop a smart city model in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, thereby improving living conditions of local people and contributing to the provincial socio-economic development, he noted.
LH is a leading business in smart city development in the RoK. It previously joined hands with TDH Ecoland, an affiliate of real estate developer Ecopark Corp, to set up a modern industrial park covering nearly 140 ha in Hung Yen.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc inaugurates OCOP fair in Hanoi
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, together with other leaders of the Party, State and Hanoi city, cut the ribbon to open the “One Commune, One Product” Fair in the capital city on September 21.
The two-day event is organised in the framework of the conference to review the 10 years implementing the national target programme on building new-style rural areas, and the municipal Party Committee’s programme No.02-CTr/TU on developing agriculture and building new-style rural areas to improve local livelihoods.
On display at 170 booths were standout rural industrial products, high-tech agricultural products, handicrafts, Soc Son medicine, BBB beef, organic rice, clean vegetables, and ornamental trees, among others.
All of the exhibited products have traceable origins.
The fair creates opportunities for local businesses, associations and production establishments to enhance trade promotion as well as boost cooperation to shape up sustainable value chain.
A photo exhibition highlighting Hanoi’s achievements in building new-style rural area was also held in tandem with the OCOP fair.
Nghe An province looks for investment
The north central province of Nghe An promoted its advantages to potential investors at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on September 20.
The north-central province is calling for investment in 117 projects in areas such as infrastructure construction, real estate, tourism, trade, leather and footwear, seafood processing, power generation, electronics, information technology, supporting industries, the auto industry, and food processing.
Thai Thanh Quy, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said Nghe An is one of the few provinces to have established an investment promotion and support centre under its People’s Committee. It serves as a one-stop agency and helps ease the way past procedures for investors.
The authorities also actively engage in direct dialogue with the business community to resolve their problems quickly.
Beside preferential tax and land policies, Nghe An also has policies to support investors such as supporting in subsidising compensation paid for land acquired for industrial zone infrastructure, investment in transport infrastructure and others.
Along with support policies, the provincial authority has been accelerating planning for infrastructure development, especially transportation, to ensure easy movement of goods and services.
Nghe An has emerged as a hot investment destination even as many areas in the north and south have shown signs of saturation, and an increasing amount of capital has been flowing into the province in recent years.
Experts pointed out this is also due to its enormous efforts to build infrastructure and improve the investment climate and business condition.
The increasing investment has helped the province modernise its economic structure, almost triple revenues in less than a decade and create tens of thousands of jobs.
However, its large projects are still mostly domestic and the province is aiming to further attract foreign investment.
The province has attracted 927 domestic and 53 foreign projects worth 276 trillion VND (12.1 billion USD) in the last 10 years, including a 1.2 billion USD dairy farm by TH Milk Food JSC, a 1 trillion VND high-tech pig farm by Masan Nutri – Farm and some major hydropower plants, the provincial People’s Committee’s report said.
Expo promotes mechanical engineering industry in the north
The 7th International Precision Engineering, Machine Tools and Metalworking Exhibition & Conference (MTA HANOI 2019) will return to the capital city next month, aiming to assist with the development of the mechanical engineering sector in the north.
With the theme of “We are Industry 4.0 ready!”, the upcoming exhibition will witness the participation of 158 businesses from 15 countries and territories including those from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, the UK and the US.
Covering an area of 5,500sq.m, the three-day event will showcase products and advanced technologies from around the globe relevant to the mechanical engineering sector.
Especially, it will highlight the most innovative solutions of Industry 4.0 in order to apply the technology in production.
Speaking at a press meeting introducing the expo held in Hanoi on September 20, William Lim, Project Director, Engineering Events at Informa Markets, praised Vietnam’s impressive economic performance over the past ten years with an average GDP growth at 6 percent, driven by strong domestic demand, export-oriented-manufacturing as well as increasing foreign direct investment.
Vietnam’s economy this year is expected to grow by around 6.8 percent – the fastest rate in Southeast Asia, Lim said, adding that MTA HANOI has also enjoyed strong growth in line with the domestic economy.
This year’s edition will be held from October 16-18 at the International Centre of Exhibition in the capital city.
A conference discussing the manufacturing industry in Vietnam and “Made in Vietnam” goods and another on mechanical engineering firms in the context of Industry 4.0 will be held on the sidelines of the event, which will be co-organised by Informa Markets and VCCI Exhibition Service Co.
MTA HANOI 2018 recorded more than 5,000 trade visitors from 15 countries and regions and 308 group delegations, marking an increase of 37.5 percent in comparison with the previous edition.
Printing industry urged to switch to environmentally friendly equipment
Printing businesses in Vietnam should begin using more environmentally friendly equipment, experts said at a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ngo Anh Tuan, chairman of the Printing Association of HCM City, said that the kind of printing methods being used by businesses are the primary cause of pollution.
For the printing industry to develop sustainably and in an environmentally friendly way, businesses should invest in modern equipment and pay more attention to workers' welfare, he said.
Nguyen Chau Phong, a representative of Total Print Co. Ltd, said that environmentally friendly technologies that use fewer toxic substances could reduce the volume of water and electricity needed for printing.
Pham Tuan Vu, deputy head of the Department of Publishing, Printing and Distribution of the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the city's printing output accounted for around 65 percent of the country's, and that the annual revenue from printing was around 2 billion USD.
The printing industry in the city and the country has seen good growth of around 15-17 percent this year compared to the previous year.
Vu said the industry should decrease the amount of alcohol involved in offset printing while still keeping productivity and product quality.
The conference was held by the Department of Information and Communication and the Printing Association of HCM City on September 19.
Quang Ninh develops new products to promote local tourism brand
The northeast coastal province of Quang Ninh has been working hard to lure investment and develop tourism products in a bid to promote the province’s tourism brand.
The province aims to create new tourism products in eco-tourism, experimental tourism, adventurous tourism, cultural tourism, agro-tourism and community-based tourism, which are launched in the localities of Dong Trieu, Hoanh Bo, Binh Lieu and Tien Yen.
Director of the provincial Department of Tourism Pham Ngoc Thuy said in July, the department organised a workshop to assess potential, advantages and current situation of agro-tourism in Quang Ninh, as well as to gather opinions of experts and travel agents on developing this type of tourism.
The province also called for creative and interesting ideas of new tourism events.
Notably, the Ha Long International Circus Festival, the first of its kind, is scheduled to take place in mid-November this year. The international event is hoped to not only attract a large number of tourist arrivals to the city, but also offer chances to bolster investment in tourism and services with a series of sidelines events.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Thang underlined that what matters the most for the tourism sector of Ha Long in particular and Quang Ninh in general, is to build new tourism products which can attract domestic and foreign holiday makers even outside the peak tourist season in summer.
Therefore, the International Circus Festival is of significant meaning for Ha Long and Quang Ninh, he added.
August this year marked an outstanding event for the province’s tourism sector when Quang Ninh signed a cooperation agreement with Clipper Ventures on the participation of the province in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2019-2020 and hosting of the 2021-2022 edition.
The signing ceremony took place in Ha Long city with the attendance of leaders from the provincial People’s Committee and relevant departments, as well as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Clipper Ventures William Ward and representatives from VinGroup and SunGroup.
According to the agreement, from the 2019-2020 edition, Quang Ninh will officially become a team partner of the race.
Quang Ninh is the only representative locality of Vietnam to have a team named “Ha Long Bay – Viet Nam” taking part in the global sailing race. A participating clipper of the yacht race was named “Ha Long Bay – Vietnam” at a ceremony held in London’s St Katherine Docks on August 29.
Bearing the logo of the local Ha Long Bay, the clipper will help popularize the image and brand of Quang Ninh tourism around the world.
The Clipper Race 2019-2020 began on September 1 with 8 legs starting from St Katherine Docks. The fleet will complete its circumnavigation when it returns eleven months later, in August 2020.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has been held for more than 20 years and become an annual event with the participation of about 70 clippers.
The race is a golden opportunity for the province to attract investment, promote tourism, and exchange culture with the UK and other destination countries along the journey.
Quang Ninh’s tourism has sustained fast growth rate in recent time. The province welcomed about 10.5 million visitors in the first eight months of the year. Of the figure, there were 3.7 million foreign tourists, a year-on-year rise of 14 percent.
Tourism revenue was estimated to hit 20.7 trillion VND in the period, surging 29 percent compared to the same period last year.
With this momentum, the province is confident it will fulfill the target to receive 15-16 million tourists, including 7 million foreigners in 2020 and a total 30 million visitors in 2030, along with becoming one of the best tourist destinations in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Vietnam predicted to maintain status as ASEAN’s bright spot in trade in 2019
In the first eight months of 2019, Vietnam’s total trade value reached US$340 billion, up 8.9% year-on-year, leading to a trade surplus of US$5.2 billion during the period.
Vietnam, along with Thailand, is predicted to remain a bright spot in ASEAN in terms of trade surplus for the remaining period of the year, according to Viet Dragon Securities Company (VDSC).
In the first eight months of 2019, Vietnam’s total trade value reached US$340 billion, up 8.9% year-on-year, leading to a trade surplus of US$5.2 billion during the period, data from General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) revealed.
During this process, export growth has been recovering gradually and rose to 10.2% year-on-year in August, compared with this February’s 1.9% inter-annual rise. Electronics and accessories, plus electrical products, wood and textile made the biggest contribution to the growth.
Notably, electronics manufacturers stepped up their production starting in May. As a result, the total trade surplus surged to US$1.9 billion and US$3.4 billion in June and August, respectively.
That eased concerns about the trade deficit recorded at the beginning of the year, standing at US$170 million in the first five months. Meanwhile, import growth reversed and has dropped since June because of the decrease the volume of imported cars.
vietnam predicted to maintain status as asean’s bright spot in trade in 2019 hinh 2
However, the notable concern is related to Vietnam’s trade balance with the US and China. Statistically, the trade surplus with the US skyrocketed to US$30 billion in the January – August period, up 40% year-on-year, while the trade deficit with China expanded to US$25.4 billion, up 46% year-on-year. The latter deficit is in part related to the fact that Vietnam has limited manufacturing capacity and must import various inputs from China.
The government is well aware of that. Vietnam’s Politburo, the country’s most powerful decision-making body, issued a resolution to keep attracting FDI. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued a draft circular on Vietnamese goods’ origins.
Another notable movement is that the VND remains stable against the greenback although the US dollar Index (DXY), measuring the value of US dollar relative to a basket of foreign currencies, stayed at high levels.
The VND is supported by a healthy trade surplus, all-time high FX reserve and stable economic growth. The currency has started slipping down by 0.35% in the last 15 days after State Bank of Vietnam’s decision on lowering its policy rates.
The USD/VND exchange rate rose by 0.3% year-to-date. From VDSC’s point of view, the increase is enough to keep Vietnamese goods competitive and economic growth stable.
Vietcombank named as nation’s best bank in 2019 by Alpha SEA
The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has been selected as this year’s best bank in Vietnam, according to Alpha Southeast Asia (Alpha SEA) magazine in an awards ceremony which recently took place in Singapore.
Of the awards given by Alpha SEA magazine, Vietcombank was the only Vietnamese institution to claim a prize.
The annual award is presented in recognition of outstanding financial institutions in the Southeast Asian region. When assessing the contenders for the prize, efficiency and development are the two leading criteria in which candidates must score highly on.
For the 2019 awards the magazine received 218 entrants from six countries worldwide, with 13 entrants among them being from Vietnamese financial institutions.
According to Alpha SEA magazine, Vietcombank affirmed its position as one of the nation’s leading banks. The financial institution regularly enjoys outstanding figures in terms of its Return On Equity (ROE), its capital adequacy ratio (CAR), and net interest margins (NIM).
On the back of this success, Vietcombank is now aiming to become one of the region’s top 100 financial institutions and to reach the world’s top 300 by 2020.
Alpha SEA magazine specialises in content about investment and finance in the Southeast Asian region. With six publications each year, the magazine provides information for investors throughout Europe, America, and the Asia-Pacific region about the state of the Southeast Asian financial market.
Ha Long city rises from services, tourism
Ha Long city of the northern coastal province of QuangNinh, located on the banks of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay, is still a popular tourist attraction with nearly 7.15 million visitors in the first eight months of this year, up 22 percent year on year.
In the period, the city earned 14 trillion VND from tourism, showing the high efficiency of the city’s investment in the service and tourism sector.
Boasting abundant potential for tourism development, Ha Long has long been an ideal destination for holidaymakers. One of the highlights is Ha Long Bay, which has been recognised twice by UNESCO as a global heritage site for its landscape and geological value.
This year, the bay was labelled as one of the most mentioned global cruise destinations on Instagram by British magazine Woman and Home.
It was also listed among the 25 most beautiful places around the world by the US’s Cable News Network (CNN), and among the most popular attractions in Asia according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
To optimise the tourism potential, every year, the city has built a yearly working plan with tasks and measures focusing on building a civilised and friendly city.
In 2016, the city concentrated on building a cultured lifestyle and urban landscape, while improving the quality, responsibility and efficiency of public servants’ operation, towards turning Ha Long into a friendly and cultured city.
In 2017, the city focused on tightening administrative principles and disciplines, continuing to improve the city’s landscape and build a civilised and friendly tourism environment.
The theme for 2018 was protecting and improving the quality of the natural environment and building a smart city, while that of 2019 is increasing the quality and efficiency of services, and promoting the building of a green, clean and smart city.
Alongside, the city has launched tourism projects, including those on developing the city centre with a focus on Bai Tho mountain, promoting Ha Long city’s tourism products, preserving and developing the cultural value of fishing villages in Ha Long Bay, piloting a model road of Ha Long in Cai Dam area of Bai Chay ward, and strengthening the quality and management of tourism boats operating in Ha Long Bay.
During the implementation process, Ha Long city has made planning public in order to attract investment in service-tourism sectors to create new products.
The city has prioritized developing the network of entertainment, shopping, restaurant and port facilities, while fostering linkage with other localities as well as businesses to promote the efficiency of communications works such as the Van Don International Airport, highways, inland waterway ports and seaports.
One of the most obvious changes seen in the city over the year is the infrastructure system, which has contributed to promoting Ha Long city’s tourism development.
Regarding connection with the outside, the city has developed highways and the first specialised passenger port of the country, located between Van Don International Airport and Cat Bi Airport of Hai Phong city.
Both domestic and foreign investors have considered Ha Long city a promising land with high opportunities of gaining profit. They have launched many infrastructure, tourism and service projects in the locality.
Tourism products of Ha Long have been built in accordance with specific areas, creating diverse and connected chains.
Ha Long tourism has been renovated in both performance and quality, resulting in new breakthroughs in the restructuring of other economic sectors.
Tourism activities and the number of visitors in the city saw sharp rises in the first eight months of this year, almost completing the target set in Resolution 05-NQ/TU of the city for 2020 of welcoming 8 million tourists.
The result is considered a great success of Ha Long city in transforming the growth model from “brown” to “green” in conformity with the planning and development orientation of the Government and the province.
Electricity company lists on HCM City stock market
Gia Lai Electricity Joint Stock Company officially listed its shares on the HCM Stock Exchange on Thursday at a reference price of VND27,490 (US$1.18).
Established in 1989, the company, formerly Gia Lai Kon Tum Hydroelectric Company, has a charter capital of VND2.038 trillion ($87.8 million).
Its main businesses include electricity production and trading, providing technical services, construction, installation, and manufacture and import and export of electrical machinery and equipment.
Speaking at the exchange, Tan Xuan Hien, the company chairman, said the listing would help promote the company’s image and prestige and facilitate further capital mobilisation down the line.
It also provides motivation to develop further and improve corporate governance and transparency in line with international standards, he added.
The company owns directly or indirectly 14 hydropower plants with a total capacity of 85.1MW in the central and Central Highlands regions.
Last year it began operation of the 48MWp TTC Phong Dien solar power plant in Thua Thien-Hue Province and 69MWp Krong Pa solar power plant in Gia Lai Province.
The company’s revenues have grown significantly in the last two years to reach VND559 billion ($24.07 million) last year when after-tax profit was VND187 billion ($8.05 million).
In the first half of this year its revenues and after tax-profit were VND513 billion ($22.09 million) and VND157 billion ($6.76 million).
Quang Ninh approves $36m hi-tech farming zone
The People’s Committee of northern Quang Ninh Province has approved the establishment of a hi-tech farming zone, expected to cost VND829 billion (US$36 million), in Dam Ha District.
Covering nearly 170ha, the zone will be used for researching and fostering the application of technology in the seafood industry with a focus on shrimp development in the province and others in the north.
It will be also in charge of providing fish breeds, developing technologies used for fisheries farming and support industries besides focusing on personnel training for the seafood industry, the online newspaper said.
Of the zone’s total investment, VND159 billion will come from the provincial budget while the remainder will be contributed by the Binh Thuan Province-based Viet-Uc Seafood Corp – the zone’s developer and strategic investor. The company will be eligible to manage more than 100ha of the zone’s area.
The zone will be developed in three stages. The first phase will be kicked off in 2020, the second will implemented in the 2021-23 period and the third will last from 2024 to 2025.
The Prime Minister has approved a master plan for hi-tech agriculture zones through 2020, a move to put domestic farming on the sustainable development track and ensure national food security.
Besides previously-approved hi-tech farming parks in Hau Giang and Phu Yen, another eight will be built in HCM City, the northern provinces of Thai Nguyen and Quang Ninh, the central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Khanh Hoa, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, and southern Binh Duong and Can Tho City.
Farming zones applying technological advances dedicated to coffee trees are mostly in the Central Highlands, northwest and north central regions.
By 2030, studies on zoning off hi-tech agriculture areas will be conducted in Lao Cai, Phu Tho, Son La, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Nghe An, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Tien Giang, among others, to reveal the impact of the programme.
JLL: Investors finding value in obsolete buildings
In an increasingly tight real estate market, more and more investors are finding value in adapting obsolete buildings, according to JLL Vietnam.
The pace of technological and social change around the world means more and more buildings are becoming obsolescent as consumer needs and demands shift.
In between the glossy new developments and protected historic buildings are many older, redundant buildings. Thoughtful reuse of these moribund assets offers a way for investors to enter the market and add value, according to Dr. Megan Walters, JLL’s Head of Asia Pacific Research. “Obsolescent buildings might be wrong for their current use, but might also be adaptable to something more suitable,” she said.
Thanks to its past, Vietnam’s major cities are filled with historic buildings and tiny alleyways that lead to more tiny alleyways. While the older generation used to line up for an opportunity to secure street-front real estate for retail purposes, young people are more into low-key properties. Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are seeing a resurgence of historic buildings that would have been replaced by more modern properties by now, if not for millennials.
The focus on the old is not new. Long-standing apartment buildings and mansions on main streets like Ton That Thiep and Nguyen Hue in Ho Chi Minh City have been enjoying steady traffic for many years thanks to charming coffee shops, cool bars, and hip clothing brands. Hanoi, on the other hand, has always been famous for its Old Quarter, where the past and present meet to bring about great business. What used to be shops of artisans and traders are now also home to concept stores, hostels, and restaurants, bustling with tourists and youngsters.
Non-retail businesses are not staying out of the retro wave. Toong is known for transforming many old, underutilized buildings into contemporary coworking spaces, bringing modernity and tradition into the workplace. Forgotten properties around the city are now busy again thanks to the presence of startup companies with a young and hip workforce. But not any old building can be resurrected successfully.
“The most suitable buildings for adaptive reuse are those that are well-positioned, even if the site is not suited to the current use,” said Dr. Walters. “Finding assets with ‘good bones’ and a layout that can be easily adapted to new use is also important. City authorities are likely to be amenable to plans that bring life, people and employment back to a building or a district.”
Safety should also be a major consideration for businesses considering this type of property. Many historic properties are in various stages of disrepair and suffer from pest, mold, and damp walls. The absence of building management boards and any fire safety regulations put these properties at great risk. Caution should be taken before investing and make sure you are aware of not just the building’s advantages but also its issues.
Regardless, the trend is here to stay, for both retail and non-retail businesses. Investors prepared to think creatively can acquire such buildings while the price is still reasonable.
APEX lists Vietnam Airlines among four-star global airlines
APEX (the Airline Passenger Experience Association), the only non-profit membership trade association dedicated to improving the entire airline passenger experience, has announced the airlines honored with four- and five-star Official Airline Ratings.
Top airlines from around the world gathered in Los Angeles on September 11 for the announcement of the industry’s most anticipated honor: the Official Airline Ratings™, the first airline rating program based solely on certified passenger feedback. Vietnam Airlines was ranked among the four-star global airlines.
The 2020 APEX Official Airline Ratings™ recognizes airlines in four categories: Global Airlines, Major Airlines, Regional Airlines, and Low-Cost Carriers.
The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ were created based on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights gathered through APEX’s partnership with TripIt® from Concur®, the world’s highest-rated travel organizing app. Using a five-star scale, more than 1 million flights were rated by passengers across nearly 600 airlines from around the world between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ were independently certified by a professional external auditing company.
“The Official Airline Ratings were designed by APEX, one of the largest international airline associations in the world, to enable every air traveler that desired to rate airlines in a 100 per cent verified, validated, and certified manner,” Dr. Joe Leader, APEX/IFSA CEO, said. “More than 1.4 million flights were rated by passengers across nearly 600 airlines from around the world. Only a small, single-digit percentage of these airlines reached the prestigious APEX Four Star Airline status, while an even smaller number reached the monumental APEX Five Star Airline level. All of us at APEX take extraordinary pride in giving full power to airline passengers as the ultimate source of validated truth in airline ratings worldwide.”
Just over 20 global airlines, 13 major and two regional airlines reached Five Star status as determined by their passenger ratings. A total of seven low cost carriers reached their highest attainable award globally with four stars out of a maximum of four stars for low cost carriers.
For four decades, APEX has represented the world’s leading airlines, suppliers and related companies and, with its members, continues to elevate the passenger experience. APEX airline members may participate in a program to receive exclusive access to the anonymous feedback provided by the airline’s passengers, which can be used to curate best practices and improve in-flight experiences for travelers.
Vietnam Airlines, Sun Group partner to offer package holidays
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and property developer Sun Group have agreed to work together to provide customers with new package tours that combine air travel and entertainment and accommodation services.
Vietnam Airlines and property developer Sun Group clinch a deal on September 19 to provide customers with new package tours.
The two corporations clinched a deal on September 19 to provide the package holidays on the carrier’s network of flight routes and the developer’s luxurious entertainment and lodging facilities.
The packages offer customer a variety of flight options from Vietnam Airlines to destinations where Sun Group’s entertainment and accommodation facilities are located.
The two sides will also partner to hold annual international events in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and Quang Ninh and develop these events as sustainable tourism products.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh, Chairman of Vietnam Airlines Pham Ngoc Minh said the deal is a start for practical and effective cooperation that will benefit both sides, the investment, tourism and trade community and customers.
Sun Group Chairman Dang Minh Truong, for his part, said he believes the deal will not only bring commercial success for the two sides but also help sustainably develop Vietnam’s tourism and air travel services.
Prior to the deal, Vietnam Airlines and Sun Group have been cooperating in operating and providing aviation services at Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh, developed by Sun Group.
The airport is known as Vietnam’s most modern airport and has been listed in the Airport Performance Measurement Programme (APMP)’s top five airports in terms of quality services.
Binh Thuan the place for property
Binh Thuan is emerging as a top holiday property market location in the southern provinces, with a growing range of large-scale ventures making their presence felt.
Traditional property investors have been investing in Binh Thuan for many years. Among them, Rang Dong Group boasts a range of projects such as Ocean Vista, Sealink Resort, and Ocean Dunes, while Viet Uc Trade and Investment JSC has Aloha Beach Village to its name.
Currently, the majority of ‘golden land areas’ for resorts and other holiday developments have been occupied already – not only in Mui Ne, the heart of the province, but expanding to other neighbouring areas such as Ke Ga cape, La Gi town, and Thang Hai district.
Many major companies have already made a mark in the province, such as Hung Thinh, Novaland Group, Nam Group, TTC, Hung Loc Phat, and DRH Holdings.
In particular, Novaland, previously more known for being the developer of many residential projects in Ho Chi Minh City, is investing around VND6 trillion ($260 million) into their NovaHills project. Located across more than 40 hectares, NovaHills will offer more than 600 five-star villas by the end of this year.
Along with that, the group is also investing in the largest-ever property project in Binh Thuan, Nova World Phan Thiet, which is to cover more than 1,000ha of land.
The mega project will include two 18-hole golf courses designed and constructed by golf legend Greg Norman, as well as water parks, a petting zoo, a sport centre, and more than 70 public facilities with thousands of second homes and shophouses.
Many other developers are also jumping on the Binh Thuan bandwagon, including TTC’s investment into the Dubai, and FLC Groups’ Mui Ne & Beach Resort complex. Hung Loc Phat has also recently announced its latest project in the province’s Phan Thiet city, named Mui Ne Summer Land and situated across 30ha.
DRH Holdings, meanwhile, has bought a 70ha land area for developing Lac Viet – a high-end eco-tourism project. Hung Thinh Corporation, in addition, was one of the first developers in Binh Thuan, and has now co-operated with Saigon Investment Company to develop the Sentosa Villas on a 30ha land areas with 530 villas and tourism facilities.
Viet Uc Group is also expanding its portfolio with a new project and VND3 trillion ($130 million) of investment. This will be a complex with a five-star hotel, trading and service centre, and residential area. Moreover, Binh Thuan is now also on the radar of many real estate developers from the northern provinces in particular.
Hai Phat Investment JSC has teamed up with Hoang Quan Corporation to invest VND10 trillion ($434 million) in a 198ha tourism centre in Mui Ne, while developer Apec Invest is now building the Apec Mandara Wyndham Mui Ne, a 4.5ha facility with capital of VND15 trillion ($652 million). This project aims to offer just below 3,000 condotel units in the second quarter of 2021.
According to Binh Thuan Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, in 2018 the province welcomed an increase of 12 per cent in tourist numbers compared to 2017. Total revenue from tourism was over VND12.8 trillion ($556 million), a rise of 19 per cent compared to the previous year. The target for this year is for more than 6.35 million tourists, up 0.4 per cent on-year.
Public-private partnership creates incentive for tourism development
Attracting investment and taking advantage of all social resources to accelerate tourism growth is the direction being applied by many localities, including Ninh Binh and Ha Nam. Situating in the southwest of the Red River Delta, the two provinces possess a lot of natural resources and cultural heritages and can cooperate with each other to improve tourism competitiveness.
In recent years, Ninh Binh marked impressive growth on the Vietnam’s tourism map. In the past five years, the average growth rate of visitors to the province reached about 12.5% a year. In 2018, Ninh Binh welcomed nearly 7.4 million visitors, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017, of which domestic tourists reaching 6.5 million (up 4.9%) and international arrivals recording 876,000 (up 2.1%). Tourism revenue reached more than VND3.2 trillion, an increase of 19.2% compared to 2017, exceeding the target set by the Provincial Party Committee. In the first seven months of 2019 alone, the province welcomed nearly 5.8 million visitors, reaching 77.24% of the whole-year plan, up 2.1% over the same period in 2018.
The advantage in natural, cultural and historical resources with nearly 1,500 relics helps Ninh Binh affirm its position as one of the country's key tourism development destination. Places such as Hoa Lu ancient capital, Phat Diem stone church, Bai Dinh pagoda, Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Thung Nham bird park, Van Long wetland nature reserve and especially Trang An scenic landscape - the first mixed cultural and natural heritage of Vietnam and Southeast Asia recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site, has contributed to building the reputation of a tourism brand for the ancient capital.
Contributing to the strong development, besides the strength in resources , it is necessary to mention the vision as well as the way to exploit and develop tourism by the locality. The deputy head of Ninh Binh Tourism Department, Bui Van Manh, said that in recent years, the province has invested in funds and resources to implement a series of Ninh Binh’s destination promotion activities, such as regularly inviting domestic and international travel agencies and journalists to come and experience Ninh Binh tourism to shape local travel routes, destinations and products. It also aimed to create favourable conditions for international film crews to come to produce their films in Ninh Binh to improve the advertising effectiveness, and actively participating in major domestic and international conferences and fairs, as well as promoting smart tourism.
To create strong development momentum for Ninh Binh tourism, it is also necessary to mention the success of public - private partnership in the field. With the motto of socialising tourism, Ninh Binh has developed mechanisms and policies to create favourable conditions to attract businesses and individuals to invest in tourism development. Over the past five years, the province has attracted more than 30 projects of organisations and individuals with a registered capital of tens of thousands of billion dong. Projects such as the construction of Dong Thai lake tourist resort, Yen Thang lake golf course sport centre, or the road leading to Thung Nham ecotourism area, have contributed to forming a new face for Ninh Binh tourism.
Trang An complex, covering a total area of 12,000 ha, contains outstanding global values in culture, aesthetics, geology and geomorphology. Among the tourism projects with private investment in Ninh Binh, it can be named the works built with large funds, such as Bai Dinh pagoda – a Buddhist spiritual work that has set many Asian records. According to statistics, 80% of visitors to Ninh Binh come to Trang An - Bai Dinh. In recent years, these destinations have become a symbol of Ninh Binh tourism, a nucleus connecting other destinations to form complete tours and routes, at the same time creating jobs and stable incomes for more than 20,000 employees, making an important contribution to the local socio-economic development.
These giant projects help Ninh Binh to establish its strength as a destination for world-class events, thereby attracting international visitors and affirming Ninh Binh tourism in particular and Vietnam in general. Since its inception, Bai Dinh pagoda has become a venue for many important events, such as the world Buddhist science conference, the international conference on spiritual tourism for sustainable development organised by the World Tourism Organisation, and notably the 2014 United Nations Day of Vesak with the participation of thousands of international delegates from nearly 100 countries and territories, along with tens of thousands of Buddhist followers in the country and abroad.
It is a positive result from promoting socialisation and attracting investment in tourism development. The direction is also pursued by Ha Nam province in a hope to improve its tourism position, especially with the establishment of Tam Chuc tourist area, the world's largest cultural and spiritual work is under construction in Ba Sao, where it has been chosen to host the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations 2019. The highlight of Tam Chuc is a spiritual area planned on an area of over 140 hectares, featuring many great Buddhist masterpieces.
At the UN Day of Vesak 2019, Tam Chuc pagoda welcomed more than 20,000 domestic and international delegates from more than 100 countries and territories, along with tens of thousands of Buddhists nationwide. This event is not only an important external activity but also an opportunity to promote the image of the country and people of Vietnam, as well as the potential of Ha Nam spiritual tourism to international friends. Although the project is still in the process of completion, Tam Chuc has become a “keyword" to attract tourists to Ha Nam. According to statistics, during the early 2019 festive season, Tam Chuc tourist area welcomed an average of 7,000 to 8,000 visitors a day, and currently the figure is at 3,000 to 5,000 guests per day, significantly contributing to the growth of tourists in the province.
In 2018, Ha Nam province welcomed nearly 1.3 million visitors, with total tourism revenue reaching VND296 billion. In the first six months of this year, the number of travellers to Ha Nam increased suddenly with more than 1.6 million arrivals, up 112% over the same period in 2018, and the total tourism revenue reached VND370 billion. Tam Chuc targets to welcome about 3.7 million visitors by 2025, of which international visitors at 470,000 and the total revenue from tourists at about VND1.1 trillion, creating jobs for about 2,400 employees. This goal, if being realised, will help Ha Nam become a key tourism destination in the Red River Delta.
The success of the UN Day of Vesak 2019 has demonstrated the potential of Ha Nam in hosting international-scale events, thereby improving the position of the local tourism brand. For a long time, despite possessing many resources to develop heritage - cultural tourism with over 1,700 relics of all kinds, while being located at an important gateway in the southern part of the Red River Delta near Hanoi, Ha Nam is still only a marginal destination on the travel itinerary, has not attracted many long-stay tourists due to the lack of tourist areas and attractive tourism products. Therefore, attracting investment to build large-scale and attractive destinations such as the Tam Chuc - Ba Sao complex is opening up prospects to connect the relics and places in Ha Nam, such as Vong cave, Co Doi cave, Thien Phuc pagoda, Ba Danh pagoda, Ly Thuong Kiet temple, Thi pagoda, Le Chan temple and Tam Giao pagoda, thus forming special tours and routes. At the same time, the emergence of Tam Chuc tourism area which is set to become a national tourist complex also strengthens the linkage for Ha Nam with neighbouring provinces.
In the Ha Nam tourism development master plan to 2030, with a vision to 2050 approved by the Provincial People's Committee, Ha Nam determines that the eco-spiritual tourism product will be a strategic one, with the focus on Tam Chuc national tourism area in association with linkage with other tourism areas in the region. According to Le Xuan Huy, the head of the Ha Nam Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the two provinces of Ha Nam and Ninh Binh have great potential for developing eco-spiritual tourism with many popular tourist sites and destinations. Tam Chuc tourist area is considered as a key factor that links Huong Pagoda in Hanoi with Van Long nature reserve, Bai Dinh, Trang An and Tam Coc pagoda in Ninh Binh, thus forming an eco-spiritual wetland tourist complex. The geographical distance among such areas and tourist spots is also convenient, making it easier for connecting routes and tours.
In addition, an investment project to build a road connecting Tam Chuc tourist area and Trang An - Bai Dinh and Huong pagoda has been formed. When this route is completed, it will establish a "golden triangle" of spiritual and ecological tourism connecting the largest spiritual tourist areas in the North to attract more tourists. However, it is not enough only relying on the convenience of transportation and infrastructure. It also needs to link such areas based on their spiritual connection, thereby creating accents and differences for each of such tourist destinations. On the spiritual route linking Bai Dinh pagoda - Trang An - Van Long - Tam Chuc pagoda - Huong Pagoda, it is possible to organise pilgrimage tours to learn about the national history and culture, such as the spiritual path to learn about the relics of the Dinh - Tien Le - Ly – Tran dynasties, or the pilgrimage in the footsteps of Zen master Nguyen Minh Khong (1065-1141) – a well-known Zen master in Ly dynasty. Experts have said that the formation of such routes would surely create a strong boost for tourism development in the northern provinces.
In tourism development cooperation, local governments play an important role as a locomotive to create bridges and support mechanisms, but the results also depend heavily on the links and coordination of tourism units and businesses. Therefore, attracting investment and promoting the participation of businesses on the basis of enhancing State management is an important solution to form key tourism products, as well as strengthening the ability to link and cooperate to promote tourism growth.